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Salvage - Darwin Harbour

Almost two decades after the war the wrecks in the harbour were becoming an increasing shipping hazard and in 1959 the Australian Government contracted the Fujita company to salvage the wrecks. Mr Fujita along with his 2 sons and over 120 crew took two years to clear the harbour. The sunken oil tanker 'British Motorist' was re-floated and wooden huts were put on its deck as accommodation for the entire workforce. Referred to as the Hotel Darwin, Dame Patty Menzies (wife of then Prime Minister Robert Menzies) went on board as a guest.

Canvas bags were used to re-float vessels or segments before they were cut into squares and stacked onto ships bound for Japan

A refloated ship in the process of being salvaged.
A refloated ship in the process of being salvaged.

Senichiro Fujita (Son) donated a collection of images, documents and footage to the state library and has a strong connection to the NT. From the metal in the wrecks 70 brass crucifixes were fashioned and donated to the church as an act of reconciliation. The crew also undertook pro bono salvage work on the USS Peary*.


Film of the Salvage work taken by Jim Mannion.

See his other videos and story of his time as a policeman in the NT.


To do

* follow up the link with Water Police.

**More images to add from Tisdell and Mannion collections

*** - add peary details to a page on sunken ships

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