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Explore A World War II Submarine Buried Deep In Sydney Waters

Deep below the surface of the waters in Newport lays an untouched piece of history from the second world war.

Under the cover of darkness on May 31, 1942, three Japanese midget submarines entered Sydney Harbour with a mission to inflict maximum damage on the fleet of naval vessels docked there.

Two of the submarines were destroyed, and recovered from the Harbour a week after the attack, but the third, M24, was not found. M24 was able to shoot torpedoes into HMAS Kuttabul, killing 21 men and injuring another 10.

It was not until November 2006 that divers found M24 some 55 metres below the water at Bungan Head in Newport, Sydney.

The submarine was fully intact. Today, it's still covered in algae and moss and home to marine wildlife.

The submarine is covered in moss and home to marine wildlife. Image:  Liam Allen.

The submarine is also a war grave, the resting place of at least two Japanese soldiers who died on their mission into Sydney Harbour. For this reason, it is not a public diving site.

But now members of the public are able to view the submarine without having to dive below the water's surface. It's all thanks to a high-resolution 3D model that is available online.

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“M24 was one of three Japanese midget submarines to enter Sydney Harbour in 1942 and is the only sub remaining where it sank more than 75 years ago,” NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said.

The submarine sank more than 75 years ago. Image: Steve Trewavas

Building the model required the collaborative efforts of the Australian and New Zealand Chapter of the Explorers Club, ARCHAEOTecnic, Tempus Archaeology and the NSW Government.

While Australians are able to view their own history from the internet, the model also allows marine archaeologists to monitor changes to the wreck overtime. This is an important development in preserving the site.

“In addition, its depth, at 55 metres below the surface, provides many challenges in the ongoing protection of the site,” Upton said.

“Early last year the first public divers were allowed to respectfully explore the site, but not everyone has the specialist diver training to do this.”

Preserving the site comes with its challenges. Image: Steve Trewavas.

One such diver was maritime archaeologist Matt Carter who was granted special access to undertake a survey of the site to help produce the model. He said the experience of observing history first hand was extraordinary.

“It’s a humbling experience to carefully observe this history first hand,” Carter said.

The submarine model can be viewed online along with diver's photos and videos.

Featured Image: Liam Allen. 

Contact Siobhan at skenna@networkten.com.au