International Reps Mark 71st Anniversary of HMAS Kuttabul’s Sinking

Representatives from Japan, the United States, New Zealand, Britain, the Netherlands and Australia attended a commemorative service at Garden Island, Sydney today to mark the 71st anniversary of the sinking of HMAS Kuttabul.

Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Senator David Feeney joined attendees to honor the memory of the 19 Royal Australian Navy and two Royal Navy sailors who died when the converted ferry Kuttabul, then used for sailors’ accommodation, was struck by a Japanese midget submarine torpedo.

 “It is an honour to be here today at this memorial and to pay our nation’s respects and thank those who lost their lives in this attack. We will continue to remember them and honour their Service,” Senator Feeney said.

Commanding Officer HMAS Kuttabul Commander Todd Willson said the Imperial Japanese Navy launched a daring attack against the Allies that night.

 “In the early hours of 1 June 1942 three midget submarines entered Sydney Harbour and launched an attack against allied shipping. Submarine M24 fired two torpedoes at the United States heavy cruiser USS Chicago. One ran aground on the beach at Garden Island, while the second passed ahead of Chicago and under Dutch submarine K9, before exploding against the sea wall where Kuttabul was berthed, killing 21 and injuring 10,” Commander Willson said.

“While today we remember the Allies’ war dead, it is also important to acknowledge the six Japanese submariners who died in the ensuing action. Four bodies were recovered from two submarines. The fate of the last submarine remained a mystery until 2006, when a group of recreational divers located its wreckage off Bungan Head, Sydney.

“Each year, Navy commemorates the World War II battle with a service. The name Kuttabul was passed onto the Navy base at Potts Point which administers Garden Island, as a constant reminder of the action and the loss of life,” Commander Willson said.

Press Release, May 31, 2013