Australia says discovery of WWII shipwreck ends ‘tragic’ maritime chapter

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SYDNEY (Reuters) The wreckage of a Japanese merchant ship sunk during World War II was found in the South China Sea with 864 Australian soldiers on board, Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles said on Saturday. country history.

Marles said her SS Montevideo Maru, an unmarked prisoner-of-war transport that had been lost since it scuttled off the Philippines in July 1942, had been found northwest of Luzon.

The ship was torpedoed by a U.S. submarine en route from what is now Papua New Guinea to China’s Hainan Island, unaware of the prisoners on board. It is considered Australia’s worst maritime disaster.

The long-awaited discovery was made ahead of the Anzac His Day commemoration on 25 April. Anzac Day is a major day in Australia and New Zealand to commemorate the troops killed in all military conflicts. “This marks the end of one of the most tragic chapters in Australian maritime history,” Marles said in a video message.

The search for the wreck, which was discovered at a depth of more than 4,000 meters (13,123 feet), was led by non-profit marine archaeology and deep-sea research experts and supported by the Australian Department of Defense, according to the government.

“The lack of a location for the Montevideo Maru has been an unfinished business for the families of those who have lost their lives so far,” Mares said.

More than 1,000 men prisoners of war and civilians from several countries are said to have lost their lives in the tragedy.