WWII Catalina Wrecks in Darwin Harbour
Why is it Significant?
There are six wrecked catalinas on the harbour floor. Three of these are US
Navy Catalinas that were sunk in the bombing of Darwin on the 19th February 1942. Five of the wrecks were nominated to the Heritage
Advisory Council in 1998 and are still awaiting a decision. A sixth PBY Catalina was discovered in 2008 by INPEX as part of its remote
sensing survey of the seabed. These six wrecks are the only located physical evidence of the role of the catalinas in defending the
Territory. All the remains of the Quarantine Island Catalina Base that serviced them have now disappeared.
Why is it at Risk?
This has been an ongoing debate since 2008 and the wrecks have no permanent
protection. As pressure for development of the harbour increases the fate of historic relics and wrecks becomes more uncertain. Destruction of
the wrecks could well be the result of the rapid development of Darwin Harbour. IINPEX will need to dredge the harbour and blow up a section of
reef in order to bring LNG tankers in and out of the harbour to Blayden point.
What needs to be done?
The best outcome would be that the wrecks are given heritage listing, that
an exclusion zone is placed around them and a management plan put in place.