Australia to Protect Wrecked Japanese Pearl Ship

Australia to Protect Wrecked Japanese Pearl Ship

A Japanese pearling ship which has lain on the ocean floor off northern Australia for more than 70 years will be protected for its historical significance, the government said Sunday.

The Sanyo Maru, the only known wreck of a Japanese pearling mothership in Australian waters, will be enclosed within a 200-hectare protected zone, Environment and Heritage Minister Mark Butler said.

The Sanyo Maru, which as mothership provided food, fuel and fresh water to pearling vessels, sank in July 1937 after it was hit by an unseasonal storm.

The boat was heavily loaded with harvested cargo and had 20 crew onboard. All but two — a pearl diver and the ship’s purser — survived.

Butler said the wreck was in remarkable condition.

The boat sits on its keel at a depth of 27 metres, about 60 kilometres (37 miles) off the Central Arnhem Land coast.