One of Australia's biggest maritime mysteries solved after 50 years
The 50-year-old mystery of an Australian ship that capsized, killing three crew members, has been solved.
The CSIRO said today it had found the wreck of the MV Blythe Star, a coastal freighter that disappeared off Tasmania five decades ago.
It was sailing from Hobart to King Island on October 13, 1973, when it suddenly capsized and sank off the south-west coast of the state.
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All 10 crew members were able to escape the sinking vessel into an inflatable life raft, but three died before the survivors were rescued 12 days later.
Tasmanians thought the crew had all died and were stunned upon hearing the survivors' ordeal.
Despite a major maritime search, no sign of the 44-metre-long vessel was found for decades.
But last month, a research team from the CSIRO and University of Tasmania studying a submarine landslide uncovered the MV Blythe Star wreck about 10.5km west of Tasmania's South West Cape.
The researchers confirmed its identity by using multibeam sensors and underwater camera systems.
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Seafloor mapping technology showed the shipwreck was lying in water about 150m deep.
The MV Blythe Star had been carrying fertiliser and kegs of beer and was headed towards King Island on the day of its ill-fated voyage.
While the crew managed to escape the sinking vessel on a life raft, they were left to the mercy of the drifting ocean currents off south-west Tasmania.
They drifted up and down the coast and always had the shore in sight but were never able to find a safe place to land.
They eventually landed on a small beach at the bottom of steep cliffs on the rugged Forestier Peninsula.
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A few days later, on October 24, 1973, three of the remaining seven survivors climbed the steep cliffs and struggled through dense bush to find help.
They eventually found help and identified themselves as the crew from the MV Blythe Star, only to be told: "Nah, you're all dead."
Following the tragedy, major improvements to maritime safety laws in Australia were introduced.
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