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Researchers have created a 3D model of the wreck of the Japanese submarine I-124

A team of researchers has completed a three-year mission to create a 3D model of the wreck of the World War II Japanese submarine I-124. Belonging to the Imperial Japanese Navy fleet, the submarine I-124 was sunk on January 20, 1942. The vessel was performing a mission off the coast of Australia when it was
Published: December 7, 2022 - 09:00
Updated: July 23, 2023 - 01:36
Researchers have created a 3D model of the wreck of the Japanese submarine I-124

A team of researchers has completed a three-year mission to create a 3D model of the wreck of the World War II Japanese submarine I-124.

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Belonging to the Imperial Japanese Navy fleet, the submarine I-124 was sunk on January 20, 1942. The vessel was performing a mission off the coast of Australia when it was targeted in the waters of Beagle Bay, northwest of Darwin. Attacked and hit by depth charges, the I-124 sank and settled to the bottom at a depth of 53 meters, becoming a grave for 80 crew members.

The wreck of the I-124 submarine is an important piece of heritage in both Australian and Japanese history. In 2018, the country’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Darwin to pay tribute to the fallen sailors.

Survey and documentation of the wreck of I-124

Although the wreck is not far from the coast and rests at a depth that can be considered reasonably accessible, diving in this area is extremely difficult. In addition to depth, diving is hampered by low water clarity and strong tides. That’s why surveying and creating documentation of the I-124 submarine wreck was a major challenge.

The research team of marine archaeologists and experienced divers took as long as three years to complete. In addition to traditional photographic and video documentation, the researchers also collected the material necessary to create a 3D model. Thanks to this The wreck of the I-124 will be publicly accessible, and scientists will be able to continue the study without going underwater.

We can take a 3D model and present it to people, so few of whom would ever have the chance to dive into the wreck. Although you can’t dive on it, you can see it on your computer or phone screen said Matthew Carter, director of research at the Major Projects Foundation.

An important aspect of the whole project and having a 3D model, is also the ability to track the progress of the wreck’s destruction. The researchers hope to follow these processes and try to find a way to preserve the wreck, which is an important memorial site.

This involves subsequent visits by underwater archaeologists and technical divers on a relatively regular basis. All this to be able to track the impact of various processes on the degradation and destruction of the wreck Dr. Steinberg said.

Unique design

Researchers are also interested in learning more about the unique solutions used in the construction of the I-124 submarine. The Japanese produced only four vessels of this class, and three of them were destroyed before the surrender of the Empire of Greater Japan in 1945.

Sand excavated from wreckage of I-124
Sand excavated from the bottom at the I-124 wreck Photo: NT Government

Finally, it is worth mentioning that the families and loved ones of the fallen sailors received sand taken up from the bottom near the wreck. At the same time, they received assurances that if there is a possibility of exhuming the remains from inside the wreck in the future, it will be carried out and the ashes of the fallen will be returned to Japan.

Photo: NT Government


Without a doubt, the area around England’s Dover is famous for the shipwrecks sunk there. One of those worth exploring is without a doubt the Mindoro shipwreck. You can read more about it in Stefan Panis’ article, which we published in the 20th issue. DIVERS24 quarterly! The digital version of the magazine is available free of charge, while you can purchase the printed version in our online store.

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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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