Maritime Mystery Solved With Discovery Of Lost Sunken Ship | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the The Daily Wire. The author of this post is Ben Whitehead.

    One of Australia's biggest maritime mysteries has been solved with the discovery of a ship that sank 50 years ago, sending its crew on a harrowing journey of survival.

    The M.V. Blythe Star has been discovered off the coast of the Australian island state of Tasmania, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) announced in a press release Monday. The location of the shipwreck had been a decades-long mystery, one that the families of the crew wanted answers to as the 50th anniversary of its disappearance approached.

    An investigation by CSIRO has discovered the resting place six-and-a-half miles west of South West Cape, Tasmania, in roughly 500 feet of water. Using a research vessel with underwater cameras, the group could confirm it was the Blythe Star by identifying various features of the ship, including the word "STAR," still visible on the bow.

    "When I heard they found it, I was just blown away," Michael Doleman, the last surviving crewman of the ship, said. "Overall it was pretty intact, especially the propeller and the rudder. It is in pretty good nick actually, considering its journey."

    On October 12, 1973, the Blythe Star - a 130-foot freighter - left Hobart, Australia, en route to King Island, Australia, with a crew of ten men and a cargo load of fertilizer and kegged beer. The weather was expected to be favorable during the two-day trip.

    One day after leaving Hobart, the ship began taking on water and tilting to one side. Because of the ship's angle, the lifeboat could not be launched, and the vessel capsized off the southwest coast of Tasmania. With no lifeboat, the crew used an inflatable life raft, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). What caused the ship to capsize and sink is unclear, though many believe it may have been overloaded.

    "It was fine weather, beautiful weather. Suddenly there was a lurch," the ship's captain, George Cruikshank, told reporters at the time. "I thought, 'that's funny'. Next thing I knew, she was lying over on her starboard side."

    The ship sank so quickly - in less than ten minutes, according to The Maritime Executive - that no distress signal was sent. The captain didn't bring the portable emergency radio onto the raft, and no one knew the last location of the ship or that the men were beginning a fight for survival, ABC reported.

    As the inflatable raft began to drift from where the Blythe Star sank, Doleman, who was just 18 years old at the time, said they got within a quarter mile of the shore on multiple occasions but did not attempt to swim there because "there were too many sharks." The first casualty came three days after the ship sank: second engineer John Sloan. His death may have been the result of medication he needed that he wasn't able to retrieve before the ship sank, according to ABC. His body was buried at sea by the rest of the crew.

    After nine days at sea and drifting roughly 250 miles, the men came ashore at Deep Glen Bay. Two more crew members died shortly after making it ashore, possibly from hypothermia or exhaustion, The Guardian reports. At this point, the search - which began when the Blythe Star failed to arrive at King Island - had already been halted, presuming all the men were dead. Some memorial services had even taken place already. Three of the men embarked on a two-day trek to find help, eventually encountering a truck passing by, which led to their rescue.

    "We ran up to his truck and told him we were the Blythe Star survivors," Doleman recounted, to which the man replied, "Nah, you're all dead."

    "I said: 'No, we're not dead.'"
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