The Japanese SS Montevideo Maru was sunk by an American submarine in 1942 unknowingly that there were more than 1,000 prisoners of war on board.
Deep sea explorers say they have located the wreck of a World War II Japanese transport ship, the SS Montevideo Maru, which was torpedoed off the Philippines in 1942 killing the nearly 1,000 Australian prisoners of war on board.
The ship was sunk on July 1, 1942, en route from what is now Papua New Guinea to China’s Hainan, by an American submarine whose crew did not realize that the ship was carrying prisoners of war. The location of the wreck has remained a mystery for more than 80 years.
The marine archeology group, the Silentworld Foundation, which organized the mission, said on Saturday that the ship was found at a depth of more than four kilometers (2.5 miles).
The sinking of the Montevideo Maru was Australia’s worst maritime disaster, killing an estimated 979 Australian citizens, including at least 850 servicemen. The foundation said civilians from 13 other countries were on board the ship, bringing the total number of prisoners killed to about 1,060.
“Finally, the resting place of the lost souls of the Montevideo Maru has been found,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in a tweet.
He said, “Of the 1,060 prisoners on board there were 850 Australian soldiers – their lives are being taken.”
He added, “The extraordinary effort behind this discovery speaks to the enduring truth of Australia’s solemn national promise to remember and honor those who have served our country.”
“We hope today’s news will bring some measure of comfort to loved ones who have maintained a long vigil.”
Finally, the resting place of the lost souls of the Montevideo Maro has been found.
Of the 1,060 prisoners on board, 850 were Australian service members – their lives ended.
We hope today’s news will bring some measure of comfort to loved ones who have been holding a long vigil. pic.twitter.com/husOu6peUL
– Anthony Albanese (AlboMP) April 21, 2023
The long-awaited discovery comes ahead of April 25th commemoration of Anzac Day, a major day of remembrance for the deaths of their soldiers in all military conflicts in Australia and New Zealand.
“This brings to an end one of the most tragic chapters in Australia’s maritime history,” Australian Defense Minister Richard Marless said in a video message.
“The lack of a site for the Montevideo Maru is an unfinished business for the families of those who have lost their lives so far,” Marlies said.
Explorers began searching for the wreck on April 6 in the South China Sea northwest of the main island of Luzon in the Philippines, and achieved a positive sighting after only 12 days, using high-tech equipment including an autonomous underwater vehicle with sonar.
“The discovery of the Montevideo Maru closes a shocking chapter in Australian military and maritime history,” said John Mullin, director of Silentworld, which conducted the research with Dutch deep-sea surveying company Fugro with the help of the Australian Army.
“We’re looking at the graveyard of over 1,000 people,” he told Australia’s ABC News Breakfast.
“We lost nearly twice that number [Australians] As in the entire Vietnam War, so is it extraordinarily important for families and grandchildren.
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