Mariners on board the torpedoed WWII steamship Wollongbar (II) will be remembered with an official ceremony at the site of the shipwreck for the first time.
Minister for Heritage James Griffin said the wreck was finally identified in 2019 after spending 77 years below the surface, and COVID has delayed an on-site memorial until now.
“Many of the relatives of the 32 mariners who perished in the Japanese submarine attack would look out to sea and wonder where their loved ones were, hoping that one day the ship would be found,” Mr Griffin said.
“It took 77 years for the Wollongbar (II) to be discovered off the Mid North Coast after reports from a local fisherman led to an investigation and identification by maritime archaeologists from Heritage NSW.
“Finally, today on the 79th anniversary of the tragedy in 1943, families will be able to commemorate at the final resting place of their loved one.”
The wreck is located about 12 kilometres off Crescent Head on the NSW Mid North Coast, in approximately 100 metres of water.
Families will have an opportunity to remember their loves ones over the site today, with a memorial taking place on a boat near the site at the time it sank 79 years ago.
Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey said it is important for the community to reflect on the wartime history of the area.
“This is a significant moment in the history of our region and I am pleased that families will be able to remember their loved ones by taking a boat out to the site of the shipwreck for a ceremony,” Ms Pavey said.
“Five people survived this tragedy, and their stories about the sinking of Wollongbar (II) remain with our community today.”