Archaeological survey of historic submarine

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The sinking of an Imperial Japanese navy submarine off the coast of Darwin during a fearsome Second World War battle will be examined as part of a historic scientific project.

For the first time, divers will descend 50 metres in strong currents and with poor visibility in a bid to capture vision of the I-124 submarine, to inform future research and site management.

The submarine was the first wreck in Australia to be protected under the Commonwealth 1976 Historic Shipwrecks Act (now the Underwater Cultural Heritage Act).

It is the final resting place of 80 submariners who died when it sank.

Northern Territory Minister for Heritage, Chansey Paech said mysteries still remained some 80 years after a battle between the I-124 and Australian Navy corvette HMAS Deloraine on 20 January, 1942.

Previous surveys of the I-124 were restricted to remote sensing, which provides valuable data but is limited when compared to diving down to the site.

This expedition will provide new insight into one of the most important sites of shared heritage between Japan and Australia.

By sending experts down to the wreck, we give ourselves the best chance to get the most accurate picture of what happened 80 years ago and the condition of the wreck today.

The expedition will depart Darwin on Paspaley Pearls research vessel Marilynne on 16 November 2022 with survey dives scheduled for 17-19 November 2022.

The team is made up of archaeologists, technical divers, crew, film maker and a cultural liaison officer from the Australia-Japan Association of the Northern Territory.

A short documentary of the expedition is set to be launched on the anniversary of the bombing of Darwin next year.

The expedition is jointly funded by the Northern Territory Government and Commonwealth Government’s Underwater Cultural Heritage Program.

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