Sat, Nov 25, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Missing Japanese World War II submarine found off Australia

AFP , SYDNEY

A mystery over a Japanese midget submarine that went missing after attacking a ship in Sydney Harbour during World War II has finally been solved, an Australian television station claimed yesterday.

The submarine was one of three that slipped into the harbor on the night of May 31, 1942, after being launched from a fleet of five larger Japanese submarines offshore.

Two of the midget vessels were spotted and attacked, leading the two-man crews to commit suicide, Australian national archives record.

The remains of those subs were recovered and a rebuilt composite is on display at the Australian War Memorial in the country's capital.

But the third midget submarine fired two torpedoes at the US heavy cruiser USS Chicago, one of which exploded beneath an Australian depot ship HMAS Kuttabul, killing 21 sailors.

The submarine then slipped out of the harbor, its mission complete, according to the national archives, but historians have long argued about whether it managed to make a complete escape.

Yesterday, Australia's Channel Nine announced that the submarine had been found by scuba divers in deep waters off the coast. It said pictures of the vessel would be shown in its 60 Minutes program tomorrow night.

"The sub is in amazingly good shape. It is sitting up on its keel on the sand and instantly identifiable as a submarine," the station told the Australian newspaper.

It acknowledged that a documentary aired by the History Channel last year claiming to have found the missing submarine was later found to be incorrect, but said this was "the real McCoy."

A rival television station, Channel Seven, on Thursday night cut in on Nine's scoop, broadcasting photographs which it said showed the submarine.

Seven said that the pictures, which show an object encrusted with barnacles and seaweed, would be published next week in a magazine owned by the network.

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