Japanese midget submarine wreck revisited off Newport, Australia

The Royal Australian Navy has revisited the final resting place of a Japanese midget submarine 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 accommodation ferry, HMAS Kuttabul, the location of the submarine was a mystery for 64 years until 2006.

Minehunter HMAS Diamantina recently visited the wreck in support of a request from the New South Wales Office of Environment & Heritage.

Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Iain Hutchins said: “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.”

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 gently shelving sand plain.

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 meters.

At the time, Navy dispatched Diamantina’s sister ship, HMAS Yarra to inspect the site via a remotely operated vehicle.

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 during a daring raid on the night of 31 May 1942.

The other two submarines were destroyed on the night of the raid and subsequently recovered, but M24 escaped.