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Wreck of Blythe Star freighter found 50 years after sinking - video

Published: July 9, 2023 - 14:43
Updated: July 23, 2023 - 02:44
Wreck of Blythe Star freighter found 50 years after sinking – video

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has announced that the wreck of the Blythe Star freighter, which sank 50 years ago off the coast of Tasmania, has been found.

On 13 October 1973, the freighter Blythe Star sank suddenly while sailing from Hobart to King Island. The likely cause was overloading of the vessel. Although all crew members managed to abandon ship in time on a life raft, the protracted search operation resulted in the deaths of several sailors.

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Freighter Blythe Star
The wreck of the Blythe Star freighter Photo: CSIRO

Unfortunately, the described events took place in an era before the invention of the satellite phone or EPIRB. The survivors therefore had no way of communicating their exact location to rescuers. As a result, a massive search operation was carried out, the largest ever undertaken in Australia.

Eventually, after twelve days, rescuers managed to find seven surviving crew members. Unfortunately, during this time, three other survivors died before help could arrive. Due to the length of time that had elapsed since the disaster, the exact position of the Blythe Star’s wreck also remained unknown.

Search expedition

In the spring of this year, the CSIRO’s RV Investigator vessel set off on a five-week exploratory expedition. The researchers’ aim was to investigate underwater landslides located off the coast of Tasmania. In turn, as a side project, the CSIRO specialists used available instrumentation to investigate an unidentified wreck.

Sonar scann
Image after scanning the wreck by the RV Investigator crew Photo: CSIRO

The discovery of the Blythe Star

The vessel was located some time ago at a depth of 150m and about five nautical miles off Tasmania’s south-western Cape. However, its identity has not been established to date. On 12 April, the RV Investigator crew carried out a detailed scan of the wreck and its dimensions coincided with the Blythe Star. The investigators then decided to carry out a visual inspection using an ROV and underwater camera system. The operation cleared all doubts and finally confirmed the identity of the wreck – the Blythe Star had been found.

Part of the name on the bow was clearly recognisable. A close inspection of the wreck located visible damage to the stern, as well as the missing rudder. In contrast, the freighter’s hull was largely intact.

In the aftermath of the MV Blythe Star tragedy, the analysis of the incident led directly to important regulatory changes to significantly improve safety at sea.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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