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Aus gov't declares Japanese midget sub historic shipwreck

by Mappy » Tue Nov 28, 2006 12:56 pm

Not exactly new news to us, of course....


Tuesday, November 28, 2006 at 05:00 EST

SYDNEY — The Australian government on Monday declared a World War II era Japanese midget submarine recently discovered off Sydney to be an "historic shipwreck" and began investigating the vessel and the fate of its two-man crew.

On the night of May 31 to June 1, 1942, the M24 entered Sydney Harbor, along with two other midget submarines, and fired torpedoes that missed the American cruiser Chicago but exploded beneath the barracks ship HMAS Kuttabul, killing 19 Australian naval personnel and two British sailors.

Of the other two submarines, one became entangled in a defensive boom net and its two-man crew blew it up, while the other was sunk in a depth charge attack before firing any torpedoes.

"It was a very brave, a brazen, incursion right into the heart of one of the biggest harbours in the world. For the secret and the sub to have been lost for over 50 years is quite phenomenal," Environment Minister Ian Campbell told reporters.

The wreck was yet to be officially identified, but Australian navy divers were inspecting the site on Monday and navy heritage chief Shane Moore was convinced the M24 had at last been found.

The Japanese government, Campbell said, had been informed and the wreck would stay in place pending a decision on whether the sub would be raised or stay where it was as a war grave.

"I think we have to respect the sensitivities of the families of those who've been lost," he said.

A Japanese embassy spokesman said the mission was awaiting official confirmation.

One of the wreck's discoverers, diver Alan Simon, said a wreath had been placed over the site as a mark of respect to the missing Japanese sailors.
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