Another WW2 wreck located: SS Macumba found off the Northern Territory coast

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Another WW2 wreck located: SS Macumba found off the Northern Territory coast

October 06, 2017 - 13:08
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The 2,500-ton steel ship was sunk during a low-level attack by two Japanese aircraft on August 6, 1943, while carrying supplies and war materials from Brisbane to Darwin.

The merchant ship SS Macumba while still afloat. Photo supplied by the Australian War Memorial

Researchers aboard the CSIRO's research vessel RV Investigator found the merchant ship resting on the floor of the Arafura Sea off the coast of Arnhem Land, early on Wednesday morning,

On 6 August 1943, two Japanese aircraft opened fire on 2,500 ton steel merchant ship SS Macumba and her escort HMAS Cootamundra. Despite anti-aircraft fire from both ships, Macumba’s engine room was hit. Three crew were killed in the attack. Other crew members were rescued and taken aboard the escort ship and the Macumba was left to sink to the sea floor. While the location of the attack was known, no previous search had been able to discover the wreck.

Heritage project

Northern Territority Tourism Minister Lauren Moss said the joint search by Northern Territory tourism and CSIRO was an important heritage project.

"We knew SS Macumba was out there, working with different collaborators over the years we have eliminated locations, and refined our search area and are so pleased the search with CSIRO has uncovered the wreck," Mr Steinberg told ABC News.

"SS Macumba is a highly significant historic shipwreck and archaeological site with the Australian Government planning to declare it a historic shipwreck which will protect the site under the Commonwealth's Historic Shipwrecks Act."

The Macumba was crewed by civilians and staffed by Army medical staff when it was attacked.

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