It's a story that has puzzled Australians for five decades - the mysterious disappearance of the MV Blythe Star, a coastal freighter that vanished off Tasmania's coast in 1973. The ship capsized suddenly, and all 10 crew members managed to escape onto an inflatable life raft. However, three crew members died before the survivors were rescued 12 days later. For years, people presumed that all the crew had perished. But now, after half a century, the mystery has been solved.
Last month, a research team from the CSIRO and University of Tasmania uncovered the MV Blythe Star wreck about 10.5km west of Tasmania's South West Cape. The researchers confirmed its identity using multibeam sensors and underwater camera systems. Seafloor mapping technology showed the shipwreck lying in water about 150m deep. It's a remarkable discovery, finally bringing closure to a tragic event.
The MV Blythe Star was 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, the drifting ocean currents off south-west Tasmania had other plans. The survivors drifted up and down the coast but were unable to find a safe place to land, despite always having the shore in sight. They eventually landed on a small beach at the bottom of steep cliffs on the rugged Forestier Peninsula. It was a tough few days for the remaining seven survivors as they climbed steep cliffs and struggled through dense bush to find help. When they finally found someone, they were met with disbelief. "Nah, you're all dead," they were told.
It's a haunting tale of survival, tragedy, and resilience. The discovery of the MV Blythe Star wreck brings closure to this maritime mystery that has stumped Australians for five decades. The tragedy led to major improvements to maritime safety laws in Australia, ensuring that future generations of seafarers will be safer when plying the country's coastal waters. As for the MV Blythe Star and its lost crew members, they can finally rest in peace.