21 Oct 2011

NZ Navy documents WWII wrecks off PNG's New Britain island

5:06 pm on 21 October 2011

The New Zealand Navy's hydrographic ship, HMNZS Resolution, has captured 3D sonar imagery of World War Two wrecks in Simpson Harbour off Rabaul in Papua New Guinea.

The Resolution has been in Rabaul as part of an exercise to recover unexploded ordnance.

The images captured on the Resolution's equipment included an apparently intact Japanese Zero fighter in 18 metres of water.

The Resolution's commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Matt Wray, says Simpson Harbour was the scene of an intense allied bombing campaign against the Japanese and it's littered with wrecks.

HMNZS Wellington has now joined Australian and PNG army personnel to safely dispose of the stockpiles of ordnance that have been identified.

The Resolution is now on its way to Solomon Islands where it will undertake more hydrographic work, some fisheries surveillance and take part in the Mono Island and Vella Lavella WW2 anniversary commemorations.