An Australian-led team has located the wreck of the Montevideo Maru, which remained undiscovered since its sinking in 1942. Photo Courtesy of Silentworld Foundation
April 22 (UPI) -- An Australian-led team has located the wreck of the Montevideo Maru, a Japanese transport ship that was carrying hundreds of Allied prisoners when it was sunk by a U.S. submarine in 1942.
The wreck is remembered in Australia for the 979 Australian prisoners of war who died when the ship went down. The ship was carrying approximately 1,060 prisoners in total on July 1, 1942, when the USS Sturgeon torpedoed it.
The submarine's crew was unaware their target was carrying Allied prisoners when they attacked it.
The mystery of the ship's location has endured in the decades since the sinking, especially in Australia.
The search effort which ultimately located the wreck was organized by the Silentworld Foundation, an Australian-based nonprofit "with a focus on supporting and promoting Australasian maritime archaeology, history, culture and heritage," according to their website.
The Silentworld Foundation partnered with deep-sea survey experts from the Dutch company Fugro and deployed advanced technology, including an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle which scanned the seafloor with sonar.
The search kicked off on April 6 in the South China Sea and located the Montevideo Maru 12 days later off the coast of the Philippines at a depth of approximately 13,000 feet below the surface.
The team took several days to confirm the identity of the wreck.
"Families waited years for news of their missing loved ones, before learning of the tragic outcome of the sinking," said Silentworld Foundation Director and team leader John Mullen. "Some never fully came to accept that their loved ones were among the victims. Today, by finding the vessel, we hope to bring closure to the many families devasted by this terrible disaster."
Mullen express gratitude "to all of the dedicated Silentworld team involved in this expedition."