Australian researchers have created the opportunity to virtually dive on the wreck of the World War II Japanese submarine I-124.
Thewreck of the submarine I-124 is considered one of the most important to be found in Australian territorial waters. The Japanese vessel sank on 20 January 1942, just 65 km off the coast of Australia, off the town of Darwin.
Thesubmarine I-124 was carrying out a secret mission in which the crew’s objective was to mine the waters near the city of Darwin. But then the Australian Bathurst class corvette HMAS Deloraine stood in the way of the Japanese. The Japanese ship was bombarded with depth charges, which effectively sank the vessel and about 80 crew members.
Today this historic wreck is one of the most important to be found in Australian waters. The wreck rests on the bottom at a depth of about 50 m and is under full protection as a war grave. It is worth noting here that I-124 was the first wreck to receive such protection in Australia.
Therefore, due to the special nature of the wreck, the Australian authorities, in agreement with Japan, prohibited diving on it. Today, however, there is nothing to prevent every diving and history enthusiast from visiting I-124 in virtual reality. All it takes is a VR headset and a smartphone and, thanks to marine archaeologists, anyone can explore the wreck of I-124 in incredible depth of detail.
Based on our data and historical plans and photos of the ship, we created a virtual diving experience. During the screening, the film takes the viewer through the data collection process and then into the depths to experience the wreck in person. – said the creator of the digital experience, Dr John McCarthy, a marine archaeologist from Flinders University’s College of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences.
TheImperial Japanese Navy submarine I-124 was built between 1926 and 1928, at the Kawasaki Heavy Industries plant. It measured 85 metres in length, and entered service in 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War. In turn, she was assigned to the Philippine Submarine Group during World War II.
In December 1941, she conducted patrols and performed tasks in the South China Sea. The crew of I-124 had a part in the sinking of the merchant vessels Hareldawins, Corregidor and Daylite. In early 1942, she received a new assignment for operations in the Flores Sea and Torres Strait. The unit was to assist in the invasion and lay mines off the coast of north-western Australia.
On 20 January 1942, Japanese submarines made a torpedo attack on the US tanker Trinity, which was bound for Darwin. The vessel was escorted by the destroyers USS Edsall and USS Aldenm, who responded to the attack with depth charges. The corvette HMAS Deloraine was diverted to assist the Americans, which I-124 took aim at and fired torpedoes in her direction. However, the Australians evaded the attack and responded by dropping depth bombs. The Japanese submarine had to surface and moments later enemy vessels covered her with depth bombs, burying I-124 on the seabed.
Photo: Flinders University
Without doubt, for technical divers from around the world, the Donegal coast is synonymous with wreck diving. Among others due to the wreck of the SS Empire Heritage, about which we wrote in the 17th issue. the DIVERS24 quarterly magazine! The digital version of the magazine is available free of charge, while the printed version you can buy in our online shop.
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