RAN Inspects Sunken Japanese Midget Submarine

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has revisited the final resting place of a Japanese midget submarine M24 as part of a program to preserve the Second World War wreck.

Involved in the attack on Sydney Harbour which resulted in the sinking of accommdation ferry, HMAS Kuttabul, the location of the submarine was a mystery for 64 years until 2006.

Recently minehunter, HMAS Diamantina, visited the wreck in support of a request from the New South Wales Office of Environment & Heritage to carry out the inspection of the submarine.

Commanding Officer of HMAS Diamantina, Lieutenant Commander Iain Hutchins said:

“As a Minehunter, our primary role is to locate and dispose of mines in order to keep Australia’s sea lanes open for business, tourism and commerce. However we can just as easily put these skills to use in locating M24 which is why we were more than willing to help the New South Wales Office of Environment & Heritage.”

Using the camera on the ship’s remotely operated vehicle, Diamantina was able to inspect the hull which revealed the submarine remains half buried in surrounding sediments on a shelving sand plain.

Lieutenant Commander Hutchins said his crew were honoured to be tasked with this inspection.

“It is a particularly delicate operation to inspect the submarine because it is likely the crew remains are within the hull and there are scuttling charges which pose a risk.
“The wreck is also of great heritage value to the Japanese government, which is another reason why preservation of the M24 site is important,” he said.

The submarine was discovered by a group of recreational divers, following the detection of a seabed anomaly using an echo sounder, the wreck lies just off Bungan Head, Newport, at a depth of approximately 50 metres.

Working with maritime archaeologists from the New South Wales Office of Environment & Heritage, the inspection confirmed the wreck was that of M24, one of the three Type ‘A’ Imperial Japanese Navy midget submarines which attacked Sydney on the night of May 31, 1942.

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