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Australian frighter sunk by Japanese submarine discovered ‘relatively intact’


A drop camera is lowered from the research vessel Investigator sailing off the coast of southern Australia on May 14, 2017.

Photo: AFP

An Australian freighter sunk by a Japanese submarine during World War II has been located “relatively intact” in waters off the country’s southeast coast, archeologists said yesterday.

The SS Iron Crown was hit by a torpedo on June 4, 1942, while carting ore in waters off the southern coastline near the state of Victoria.

The ship sunk within 60 seconds, killing 38 of the 43 crew members aboard.

“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,” said Peter Harvey, an archeologist with the state’s Heritage agency.

Scientists located the 100m ship about 100km off the coast of Victoria.

The ship appears “relatively intact” about 700m below the surface, on the seafloor, they said.

“We have mapped the site and surrounding seafloor using sonar, but have also taken a lot of close-up views of the ship’s structure using a drop camera,” head scientist Emily Jateff of the Australian Maritime Museum said.

“This will allow us to create a composite image of the whole site to assist in follow-up surveys for its conservation and management,” she added.

Researchers said they plan to hold a memorial at the site.

The five survivors of the sinking vessel managed to grab life jackets and hold on to floating wreckage until they were rescued, the Heritage Council of Victoria said.

From June 1942 to 1943, Japan sent 13 submarines to Australia’s east coast, the heritage council said, resulting in the sinking of 22 ships with the loss of 194 lives.

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