Assistant Minister for Defence - 72nd Anniversary of Sydney submarine attack and loss of HMAS Kuttabul

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The Hon Stuart Robert MP

Assistant Minister for Defence

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30 May 2014

Representatives from Japan, the United States, New Zealand, Britain and Australia attended a commemorative service at Garden Island, Sydney today to mark the 72nd anniversary of the sinking of HMAS Kuttabul.

Assistant Minister for Defence Stuart Robert joined attendees to honour the memory of the 19 Royal Australian Navy and two Royal Navy sailors who died when the converted ferry Kuttabul, then used for sailors’ accommodation, was struck by a torpedo fired from a Japanese midget submarine.

 “We are here today to remember those 21 brave souls who lost their lives in Sydney Harbour, so close to home, while preparing to go into battle in the midst of World War II,” Mr Robert said.

 “On this solemn day, I say to the relatives of those sailors lost here some seven decades ago; pay your respects, reflect on your loved ones lives and take comfort in the knowledge that the nation will never forget them.

 “Today we also acknowledge the six Japanese submariners who lost their lives in the ensuing action.”

Commanding Officer of the current day HMAS Kuttabul, Commander Todd Willson, said the tragedy is marked every year, by the namesake Navy base, to honour those who served.

 “The commemoration provides us with an opportunity to remember our proud Service heritage and the good men and women who went before us, helping to build the working Navy we are today,” Commander Willson said.

 “We also wish to provide the loved ones of those we lost with an opportunity to pay their respects and visit the memorial plaque laid out at Garden Island.”

In the early hours of 1 June 1942, three Imperial Japanese Navy midget submarines entered Sydney Harbour and launched an attack against Allied shipping.

One of the two torpedoes fired from submarine M24 exploded against the sea wall where the Dutch submarine K-IX and the Kuttabul were berthed, sinking Kuttabul and killing 21 sailors onboard.

The lost Kuttabul was originally a Sydney Harbour Steam Ferry, requisitioned by the Royal Australian Navy after outbreak of World War II.

Media note:

Historical imagery and imagery of the commemorative service will be available at:

Media contacts:

Richard Briedis (Minister Robert’s Office) (02) 6277 7730 or 0477 391 174

Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999

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