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Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
1 December 2006
The submarine wreck recently discovered off Sydney’s Northern Beaches has been confirmed as the missing World War II Japanese midget submarine M24, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell announced today.
“I can confirm the wreck discovered by a group of divers is the Japanese midget submarine that disappeared after the Japanese action in Sydney Harbour in 1942,” Senator Campbell said.
“This will give the people of Australia and Japan the final piece of this maritime heritage puzzle.
“This discovery and the future protection of the submarine is the final chapter in an amazing story that has intrigued Australia for more than 60 years.
“The confirmation is based on an inspection by the Royal Australian Navy and advice from the Navy Heritage Collection. A comparative analysis of the midget submarine at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra was also conducted.”
Senator Campbell warned that the two demolition charges may not have been discharged, making the wreck extremely dangerous.
“To ensure the protection of this wreck, its relics and any human remains, I have declared a protected zone around the site which will extend 500 meters in each direction,” Senator Campbell said.
“This makes it an offence to engage in any underwater activity, including diving, in the zone. Mooring or using ships in the zone will also be an offence without authorisation.
“Breaches of the Act carry a fine of up to $10,000 or imprisonment for a period of up to five years.”
The submarine’s provisional declaration under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 will remain while management plans for its protection are finalised.
“The fate of the two crew members of the M24 is yet to be resolved and the Australian Government will work with the Japanese Government to ensure all matters are handled sensitively,” Senator Campbell said.
The exact location of the protection zone can be found by going to the special notices section at www.ag.gov.au/portal/govgazonline.nsf
Media Contact: Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902