Disasters & Accidents

Shipwreck from Australia’s worst maritime tragedy found after 80 years

Sydney, Australia, Apr 22 (EFE).- The wreck of the ship Montevideo Maru, which sank in 1942 after being attacked by a United States navy submarine, was found in the depths of the South China Sea, ending the search for the remains of the worst maritime disaster in Australia’s history.

More than 1,060 people including 979 Australians lost their lives when the submarine torpedoed the ship flying a Japanese flag, without the knowledge that it was transporting prisoners of war and civilians from 14 countries apart from Japanese soldiers.

Nonprofit Silentworld Foundation said in a statement Saturday that its team, backed by the company Fugro – which specializes in deep-sea exploration – and the Australian defense ministry, scoured the seabed for over two weeks until they found the remains of the sunken ship.

“The discovery of the Montevideo Maru closes a terrible chapter in Australian military and maritime history. (…) Today, by finding the vessel, we hope to bring closure to the many families devastated by this terrible disaster,” Silentworld director John Mullen, a philanthropist, said in the statement.

The wreck was found at a depth of over 4,000 meters – deeper than the remains of Titanic – close to the coast of the Philippines, after the search was launched on Apr. 7 around 110 kms northwest of the Philippine island of Luzon.

Helped by an autonomous underwater vehicle, the team first sighted the remains on Apr. 12, but it took several days to verify the wreck using expert analysis.

“Today, by finding the vessel, we hope to bring closure to the many families devastated by this terrible disaster,” tweeted Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, hailing the “extraordinary effort” behind the discovery.

“(It) speaks for the enduring truth of Australia’s solemn national promise to always remember and honour those who served our country,” he added.

Australian defense minister Richard Marles insisted that these Australians had never been forgotten.

“Lost deep beneath the seas, their final resting place is now known,” he said in a statement.

Silentworld stressed that the ship’s remains have not been disturbed and that no artefacts or human remains will be moved “out of respect for all the families of those onboard who were lost.”

The sinking of the ship caused a loss of Australian life that was double than that of the entire Vietnam War, and the tragedy was deadlier than the 1941 sinking of HMAS Sydney (645 deaths) and the disaster involving hospital ship Centaur (268 deaths) in 1943. EFE


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