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  Fairmile Motor Launch ML805 (MV Petaj)
RAN
B Type Fairmile Motor Launch

65 Tons



PacificWrecks.com
August 17, 1945

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September 10, 1945

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1948

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Dive Gizo 1997
Ship History
Built during 1943 at Greenpoint Naval Boatyard at Sydney. Delivered to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) as B Type Fairmile Motor Launch ML805 under the command of Lt. E. H. W. Sturt, RANVR.

Wartime History
On March 10, 1945, ML805 and ML802 covered the Australian Army landings at Wide Bay on the southern coast of East New Britain.

During July 1945, the Australian 6th Division believed that the Japanese on the offshore islands off Wewak were ready surrender. Both ML805 and ML809 were outfitted with broadcasting equipment to play surrender messages offshore in hopes they might surrender. On August 1, 1945 ML805 and ML809 approached Mushu Island broadcasting surrender messages without result.

On August 17, 1945 two days after Japan surrendered two Japanese boats with white flags approached ML805 and the Japanese were taken aboard and meeting was arranged on the beach of Muschu to accept the surrender of the Japanese Navy personal on the offshore islands.

On September 10, 1945 Rear-Admiral Sato boarded ML805 in the Kairuru Strait. He signed the terms of surrender and handed over his sword to Major-General Horace Robertson commander of the 6th Division, Australian Army.

Postwar
After the war, the ship returned to Australia and was stored in reserve off Village Point, Watson's Bay near Sydney.

Later, sold to private owners. Renamed MV Petaj and used as a dive boat in Queensland. Later, chartered as crew accommodations to support seismic exploration operations for Shell Oil in Papua New Guinea (PNG) including operating on the Sepik River.

Bob Hodgson adds:
"The Petaj was chartered to be used to support seismic exploration operations for Shell Oil in New Guinea on the Sepik River in mid 1980's, she was used as accommodation for crew coming in and out of the field operations, and when I stayed aboard here in 1985, she was moored up at Hauna up the Sepik River.  She had been somewhat modified from her original configuration, however there was some battle damage left and a plaque commemorating the Japanese surrender."

In 1994, the vessel was operated by Indian Pacific Seafood Company and used as a cargo vessel in the Solomon Islands. During 1997, this vessel was to be sunk off New Georgia. Instead, purchased by Danny Kennedy / Dive Gizo.

Fate
During 1997, sunk off Ghizo Island by Danny Kennedy / Dive Gizo as a SCUBA dive site and artificial reef.

Wreckage
Today the shipwreck has become an artificial reef and SCUBA dive site.

References
AWM "Wewak surrender ceremonies" F07243 cine footage ML805 September 10, 1945 off Kairuru 1:15-1:21, 2:28-3:10, 3:19-5:00
Fairmile Ships of the Royal Australian Navy Volume II pages 79-81
Thanks to Danny Kennedy / Dive Gizo for additional information

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Last Updated
March 9, 2020

 

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