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It has been 80 years since the first Japanese warship was sunk by the Australian navy during World War Two.

The I-124 had been on a secret mission laying mines off the coast of Darwin when it suffered irreparable damage from dozens of depth charges detonated by the HMAS Deloraine.

All 80 crew members died in the dramatic battle on January 20, 1942, just one month before the Japanese bombing of Darwin, and the wreck has lain on the sea bed ever since.

Exploring the site as a member of the public is impossible because of its protected status and shared heritage between Australia and Japan — until now that is.

That’s because a new virtual reality experience is offering unprecedented access to the World War Two submarine, enabling people to use YouTube to ‘dive’ down and get a closer look.

All they need is a VR headset, smartphone or tablet and I-124’s remains can be explored in extraordinary detail thanks to maritime archaeologists.

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Exploring: A new virtual reality experience is offering unprecedented access to the Japanese World War Two submarine I-124 (pictured), which was sunk off the coast of Australia on January 20, 1942

Exploring: A new virtual reality experience is offering unprecedented access to the Japanese World War Two submarine I-124 (pictured), which was sunk off the coast of Australia on January 20, 1942

It allows people to use YouTube to 'dive' down and get a closer look at the wreck 40 miles off the coast of Darwin Harbour

It allows people to use YouTube to ‘dive’ down and get a closer look at the wreck 40 miles off the coast of Darwin Harbour

The wreck of the I-124 submarine was mapped (pictured) using state-of-the-art remote sensing equipment in October 2021

The wreck of the I-124 submarine was mapped (pictured) using state-of-the-art remote sensing equipment in October 2021

All 80 crew members onboard I-124 (pictured) died when the submarine was sunk on January 20, 1942, just one month before the Japanese bombing of Darwin, and the wreck has lain on the sea bed ever since

All 80 crew members onboard I-124 (pictured) died when the submarine was sunk on January 20, 1942, just one month before the Japanese bombing of Darwin, and the wreck has lain on the sea bed ever since

KEY FACTS ABOUT THE I-124 SUBMARINE 

Who built the I-124 submarine?

Kawasaki Corporation, Kobe, Japan 

When was she launched?

12 December 1927

How many crew members were there?

80

Top speed

14.9 knots surfaced; 6.5 submerged

Range

10,500 nautical miles

Length

279ft (85m)

Armament

  • 12 torpedoes
  • 1 naval gun
  • 42 naval mines

When did she first enter service?

Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937

What was her first action in WWII? 

Laying mines off Manilla Bay in the Philippines during her first patrol on 7 December 1941.  

When was she lost?

I-124 was sunk by the Australian navy’s HMAS Deloraine on January 20, 1942. She was on her third patrol during World War Two, laying mines off the coast of Darwin.

I-124 fired a torpedo at HMAS Deloraine, which in turn detonated dozens of depth charges in a sustained attack that irreparably damaged the submarine.

All 80 crew members on I-124 died.

In anticipation of the 80th anniversary, the Northern Territory Government Heritage Branch undertook a joint project with the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) from the AIMS research vessel Solander to map the wreck using state-of-the-art remote sensing equipment in October 2021.

Dr John McCarthy, a maritime archaeologist at Flinders University, was then commissioned to create a virtual dive experience to show how this data is being used to understand and monitor this site, one of Australia’s most important wrecks.

‘Drawing on our data, and historic ship plans and photographs, we’ve created a virtual dive experience in which the video takes the viewer through the data gathering process, and then takes you down into the deep, to experience the wreck firsthand,’ said Dr McCarthy.

‘The archaeological survey shows that the wreck is in good condition, but with some signs of degradation of the outer hull that require further investigation.

‘Our aim was to create a realistic virtual experience with an accurate digital reconstruction of the submarine given the historical significance of the wreck in Australia and Japan.’

The wreck can be found 40 miles (65km) off the coast of Darwin Harbour.

It is considered a highly significant site of shared heritage between Australia and Japan, with former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attending a 2018 memorial service in Darwin honouring the Japanese soldiers who died.

Dr McCarthy said developments in virtual technology are making it possible to finally explore wrecks and submerged landscapes previously hidden to the wider public.

The I-124 was built by the Kawasaki Corporation in Kobe, Japan in 1926 and launched a year later on December 12, 1927.

She carried an armament that included 12 torpedoes, one naval gun and 42 naval mines.

Having first entered service during the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, I-124 was later used for three patrols during World War Two.

The first saw the submarine lay mines off Manilla Bay in the Philippines in December 1941.

A second followed before I-124 was lost on her third patrol while laying mines off the coast of Darwin in northern Australia.

An unsuccessful attack on a US oil tanker in the region by a sister submarine prompted the Australian navy to send three corvettes to the scene between Darwin and Bathurst Island.

First there was HMAS Deloraine. I-124 fired a torpedo at the warship, which prompted the Australian navy to retaliate by detonating dozens of depth charges in a sustained attack.

This led to I-124 suffering irreparable damage and sinking to the sea bed in January 1942. 

All 80 crew members were killed in the battle. 

Dr John McCarthy, a maritime archaeologist at Flinders University, was commissioned to create a virtual dive experience to show how this data is being used to understand and monitor this site, one of Australia's most important wrecks

Dr John McCarthy, a maritime archaeologist at Flinders University, was commissioned to create a virtual dive experience to show how this data is being used to understand and monitor this site, one of Australia’s most important wrecks

'We've created a virtual dive experience in which the video takes the viewer through the data gathering process, and then takes you down into the deep, to experience the wreck firsthand,' said Dr McCarthy

‘We’ve created a virtual dive experience in which the video takes the viewer through the data gathering process, and then takes you down into the deep, to experience the wreck firsthand,’ said Dr McCarthy

Dr McCarthy said the archaeological survey shows that the wreck is in good condition, but with some signs of degradation of the outer hull that require further investigation

Dr McCarthy said the archaeological survey shows that the wreck is in good condition, but with some signs of degradation of the outer hull that require further investigation

The wreck off the coast of Darwin is considered a highly significant site of shared heritage between Australia and Japan

The wreck off the coast of Darwin is considered a highly significant site of shared heritage between Australia and Japan

Dr McCarthy said developments in virtual technology are making it possible to finally explore wrecks and submerged landscapes previously hidden to the wider public

Dr McCarthy said developments in virtual technology are making it possible to finally explore wrecks and submerged landscapes previously hidden to the wider public

the Northern Territory Government Heritage Branch undertook a joint project with the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) from the AIMS research vessel Solander (pictured) to map the wreck

the Northern Territory Government Heritage Branch undertook a joint project with the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) from the AIMS research vessel Solander (pictured) to map the wreck

I-124 suffered irreparable damage and sank to the sea bed during a battle 40 miles (65km) off the coast of Darwin in 1942

I-124 suffered irreparable damage and sank to the sea bed during a battle 40 miles (65km) off the coast of Darwin in 1942

During World War Two, Japan was Australia’s most ferocious enemy, dropping bombs on Darwin during 64 air raids between February 1942 and November 1943 that killed 252 Allied soldiers and civilians. 

On February 19, 1942, 188 Japanese planes attacked Darwin in two air raids, killing 235 people, wounding 400 and drawing Australia into the war.

It was the largest and most destructive single attack ever mounted by a foreign power on Australia and led to the worst death toll in the nation’s history.

Thirty aircraft were destroyed, 11 ships were sunk, and many civil and military facilities were also heavily damaged.

Nearly 2000 women and children had already been evacuated before the bombings started, but there was widespread panic and about half of Darwin’s remaining civilian population fled in the immediate aftermath.

The raids were planned and led by the commander responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbor ten weeks earlier, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto.

One Japanese plane crash-landed on Melville Island to Darwin’s north, and its pilot was captured by a local Aboriginal man. He was the first prisoner of war taken on Australian soil.

The assaults on northern Australia continued for the next two years, with more than 200 raids from Exmouth in the west to Townsville in Queensland.

The ‘virtual dive experience’ is available in both English and Japanese on YouTube here.

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All is NOT calm! Animal lovers reveal the reality of spending Christmas with their four-legged friends, from cats getting tangled in the tree to a dog ripping presents to shreds

  • US animal lovers have shared what Christmas is really like when you have a pet 
  • From cats savaging the Christmas tree to dogs ripping presents to shreds 
  • In one snap, a poor feline was caught tangled in the tree’s sparkly garlands 










Pets can help to make Christmas a magical time… when they are not wreaking havoc on their owners’ houses.

Frazzled owners from around the world have revealed what it’s like to spend the holidays with very active pets who don’ really care about keeping the tree or the neatly wrapped presents intact until Christmas Day.

In one snap shared with the trivia website Bored Panda, a black cat was pictured strutting away from a tree after taking it down.

In another, a sheepish dog faces the camera after ripping their owner’s presents in shreds all over the living-room.

Animal lovers also regaled us with pictures of their geckos, rabbits, hamsters and even Alpaca in Santa hats and festive costumes.

People have shared hilarious pictures of their pets wreaking havoc on their festive celebrations. In New York, a dog ripped their Christmas present to shreds, spreading it all over their owner's living-room

People have shared hilarious pictures of their pets wreaking havoc on their festive celebrations. In New York, a dog ripped their Christmas present to shreds, spreading it all over their owner’s living-room

Feeling fessssstive? A pet lover shared a picture of their snake wearing a little Santa hat ahead of the holidays

Feeling fessssstive? A pet lover shared a picture of their snake wearing a little Santa hat ahead of the holidays

Ah, to be a service dog in hospital going around a ward in a Volkswagen toy car decorated with garlands, wearing sunglasses and a candy canes hat

Ah, to be a service dog in hospital going around a ward in a Volkswagen toy car decorated with garlands, wearing sunglasses and a candy canes hat

A poor small cat was caught tangled in their owner's Christmas tree's garlands. He kept his cool, though

A poor small cat was caught tangled in their owner’s Christmas tree’s garlands. He kept his cool, though

This black cat brazenly strutted away from their owners Christmas tree after taking it down, pictured

This black cat brazenly strutted away from their owners Christmas tree after taking it down, pictured

All hell broke loose when dog Juno tried to get a bite of cat Alvin at this California-based couple's house

All hell broke loose when dog Juno tried to get a bite of cat Alvin at this California-based couple’s house

Who is the real messiah around here? This cat evicted the baby Jesus from the manger at the local church

Who is the real messiah around here? This cat evicted the baby Jesus from the manger at the local church

It's not only cats who have a personal vendetta against Christmas trees, as this naughty dog proved

It’s not only cats who have a personal vendetta against Christmas trees, as this naughty dog proved

In California, a cat who wanted to help his owner decorate realised halfway through his climb up the ladder that he was scared of heights

In California, a cat who wanted to help his owner decorate realised halfway through his climb up the ladder that he was scared of heights

One Northwestern University student just wanted a nice picture of her cats by the tree but the two felines started fighting

One Northwestern University student just wanted a nice picture of her cats by the tree but the two felines started fighting

In North Carolina, this black dog got a little bit carried away while opening presents on Christmas Day

In North Carolina, this black dog got a little bit carried away while opening presents on Christmas Day

All this couple from Vegas wanted was a nice family picture at Christmas, but their cat was not camera ready

All this couple from Vegas wanted was a nice family picture at Christmas, but their cat was not camera ready

Bah humbug! The Spanish owners of his cat may have been feeling festive, but we're not so sure about the feline

Bah humbug! The Spanish owners of his cat may have been feeling festive, but we’re not so sure about the feline

You're not fooling anyone! This naughty dog was rumbled playing hide and seek in the Christmas tree

You’re not fooling anyone! This naughty dog was rumbled playing hide and seek in the Christmas tree

Businesses set for tough start to 2022 due to Omicron and inflation

A furry cunning plan! These cats banded together to try to take down the Christmas tree

A furry cunning plan! These cats banded together to try to take down the Christmas tree

A tiny rabbit who thought no one was watching was caught munching on a branch from the Christmas tree

A tiny rabbit who thought no one was watching was caught munching on a branch from the Christmas tree

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