One of NSW’s wartime mysteries has at last been solved with the discovery of the wreckage of the MV Limerick off Ballina on the NSW far north coast, Heritage Minister Robyn Parker announced.
Ms Parker said that while a lot is known about the sinking of the MV Limerick in 1943, it has taken almost 70 years and the opportunistic use of Australia’s Marine National Facility research vessel, Southern Surveyor, to identify the ship’s final location.
“Limerick was one of the largest vessels sunk by Japanese submarines off Australia’s east coast during their offensive submarine patrols through 1942 and 1943,” Ms Parker said.
“Local fishermen using modern depth sonars identified a large shipwreck in about 100 metres of water some 18 kilometres off the coast late last year.
“Following their discovery, NSW Water Police assisted the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) in an initial survey of the deep site with a side scan sonar but due to bad weather they were unable to conclusively identify the shipwreck as being Limerick.”
OEH then approached Australia’s Marine National Facility (AMNF), which operates Australia’s ocean-going research vessel, the 66-metre Southern Surveyor.
Owned and operated by the CSIRO and funded by the Commonwealth, AMNF is a research facility which is available to all Australian scientists and their international collaborators.
“The team at AMNF were contacted by OEH and coincidentally a research voyage was already scheduled to operate in the suspected wreck area. OEH approached the lead scientist on board to see if they could assist in locating the wreck,” Ms Parker said.