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Sunk in World War II, researchers discover a shipwreck gone missing for 74 years

For 74 years, the merchant ship SS Macumba lay lost beneath the depths of the Arafura Sea, off the coast of Australia’s Northern Territory.

It was attacked back in August 1943 by two Japanese aircraft, who scored a direct hit on the ship’s engine room. Three seamen were killed, and survivors were taken aboard an escort.

The ship was left to sink, and its whereabouts remained unknown for decades.

Image: Marine National Facility

That’s until researchers from the CSIRO aboard the RV Investigator discovered the shipwreck on Wednesday morning, during a survey of the area.

Macumba was found lying upright and relatively intact 40 metres (43 yards) deep in the ocean, and discovered by the Investigator’s sonar system. It was a joint search between the CSIRO and Northern Territory Tourism.

« The search was important to everyone on board this voyage and a lot of eyes were either glued to monitors or scanning the horizon for the signs of marine life that often point to features underwater, » Hugh Barker, CSIRO’s Marine National Facility voyage manager, said in a statement.

Image: Marine National Facility

« We discovered the wreck in the middle of the night after about 10 hours of searching, which was lucky as we only had a couple more hours available for the search.

« It was also really lucky that we had an excellent team on the sonar who noticed some unusual features on the seafloor near the edge of our search area and asked for the ship to do an extra wide turn outside the search area. That’s when we found it! »

Barker added the ship would’ve likely formed an artificial reef, and would’ve become home a range of marine life. That’s something which became obvious when they dropped a camera down below.

« Our drop camera even got a close-up photo of an inquisitive reef shark that seemed to be guarding the site. It was a special night for all on board and we are so pleased to find the final resting place of Macumba, » he said.

The data collected from the discovery will be used for a report on the state of the shipwreck, and how best to preserve it as a future historical site.


Source : Mashable