SYDNEY – A team of explorers has announced it has found a sunken Japanese ship carrying Allied prisoners-of-war when it was torpedoed off the coast of the Philippines in 1942, resulting in Australia’s largest wartime maritime loss with a total of 1,080. lives.

The wreck of the Montevideo Maru was located after a 12-day search at a depth of more than 13,120 feet, deeper than the Titanic, off the island of Luzon in the South China Sea, using an autonomous underwater vehicle with built-in sonar. .

No efforts will be made to remove artifacts or human remains out of respect for the families of those killed, a statement from the Silentworld Foundation, a Sydney-based nonprofit dedicated to maritime archeology and history, said on Saturday. He participated in the mission together with Dutch deep-sea survey specialists Fugro and the Australian Department of Defence.

«The extraordinary effort behind this discovery speaks to the enduring truth of Australia’s solemn national pledge to always remember and honor those who served our country,» said Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. «This is the heart and spirit of Lest We Forget.»

The Montevideo Maru was carrying prisoners and civilians who were captured after the fall of Rabaul in Papua New Guinea. The ship was not marked as a prisoner-of-war carrier, and on 1 July 1942, the US submarine Sturgeon, after stalking the ship overnight, fired four torpedoes which hit their target and sank the ship in less than 10 minutes.

The dead included 1,080 people from 14 countries, including 979 Australians.

“Families waited years for word of their missing loved ones before learning of the tragic outcome of the sinking,” Silentworld director John Mullen said. “Some never fully accepted that their loved ones were among the victims. Today, by finding the boat, we hope to bring some closure to the many families devastated by this terrible disaster.»