Aust WWII shipwreck found after 77 years

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Gemma Najem
(Australian Associated Press)

 

An Australian World War II freighter has been discovered 77 years after it was sunk in a deadly Japanese submarine attack.

The SS Iron Crown was on its way through Bass Strait with a cargo of manganese ore when torpedoed and sunk within 60 seconds, killing 38 of its 43 crew on June 4, 1942.

Now, the ship has been located about 100km off the Victorian coast on the edge of the continental shelf using sonar technology and a special drop camera, researchers announced on Tuesday.

Heritage Victoria maritime archaeologist Peter Harvey says the shipwreck was one of Victoria’s deadliest, with a memorial service to be planned for the site.

“Locating the wreck after 77 years of not knowing its final resting place will bring closure for relatives and family of those that were lost at sea, as well as for Australia’s maritime community,” he said.

Voyage Chief Scientist, Emily Jateff from the Australian National Maritime Museum, said it was an exciting yet solemn discovery.

“The fact that so many lives were lost … hit home with all scientists, staff and ship crew working on (the project),” said the search leader.

Divers cannot reach the ship, which sits almost 700m deep on the sea floor, so CSIRO research vessel Investigator used its technology to capture close up vision of the ship structure and map the site when it was discovered last week.

The ship, which is sitting upright, appears relatively intact, with cameras showing the bow with railings, anchor chains and both anchors still in position, as well as other structures on the deck.

The find comes after volunteers from the Maritime Archaeology Association of Victoria spent hours narrowing the ship’s location.

The Victorian and federal governments have been notified and the ship will be protected under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976.

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