By Terry Cantwell
The boat that discovered Australia’s most searched-for shipwreck has become a historic vessel herself.
Justin McCarthy’s World War Two patrol boat MTB 02-14 Action has just been accepted onto the Australian Register of Historic Vessels.
Action will share this exclusive honour with notable vessels such as the beautiful schooner Alma Doepel, America’s Cup winner Australia 2, and Australia’s oldest surviving sailing vessel, The City of Adelaide.
Built in Brisbane in 1942 for the war effort, Action was one of twelve PT boats deployed by the RAAF as search and rescue vessels in New Guinea. The PT boat came under Japanese fire at Milne Bay, New Guinea as it rescued downed Australian airmen from the seas.
Action continued ceremonial duties after the war, such as carrying Queen Elizabeth across Sydney Harbour in 1953, before being sold into private hands at the Williamstown Yacht Club in 1960.
An Adelaide consortium purchased Action in the late 1970s and in the mid 1990s Action formed the platform for a television documentary about the Murray Darling Basin.
Justin McCarthy, a diver and member of Australia’s most successful independent shipwreck discovery team, Southern Ocean Exploration (SOE), purchased Action earlier this year.
SOE has since been using Justin’s PT boat as its primary search vessel.
In May this year Action discovered the wreck of the TSS Coramba, which sank in Bass Strait in 1934, taking 17 lives.
The Coramba was one of Australia’s most searched for shipwrecks. Its discovery closed a contentious chapter of Australian maritime history.
Justin McCarthy is delighted with his boat’s inclusion in Australia’s pantheon of significant vessels.
“It’s fantastic that she will be recognised for her part in our country’s history. It’s also wonderful that she is still contributing to our national story,” he said.