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AWM & ANMM receive Montevideo Maru dossier

Australia commemorates its worst maritime tragedy, Radio NZ, 28 November 2023

The Montevideo Maru Photo: Silent World Foundation.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has led a commemorative dinner at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra to honour those that died in the nation’s worst maritime tragedy – the sinking of the Montevideo Maru during World War II.

The Japanese freighter, carrying mostly Australian prisoners of war, following the fall of Rabaul in 1942, was torpedoed by an American submarine and sank in the South China Sea near Luzon.

It resulted in the death of 1,080 people from 14 different countries.

Most of those who died were from Australia, making it by far the country’s worst maritime disaster.

Earlier this year, the Silentworld Foundation located the Montevideo Maru at a depth of 4,200 metres.

Silentworld’s John Mullen told the commemoration about the mission to locate the vessel and try and bring closure to the families of those lost in the sinking.

Earlier this month, Mullen had hosted another commemorative dinner attended by King Harald of Norway to honour the 33 Norwegian sailors and crew who were onboard the Montevideo Maru.

They had been captured from the M/S Herstein, which was in service for the Australian government in the lead-up to Japan’s invasion of New Guinea in 1942.

The Silentworld Foundation said it partnered with Norway’s Centre for the History of Seafarers at War to locate descendants of the crew, of whom 58 attended the dinner.

See also: Montevideo Maru Australian Media Release