Statement on the discovery of the MV Blythe Star

Almost 50 years after its sinking, CSIRO has confirmed the location of the MV Blythe Star off the South West Cape of Tasmania.

This discovery brings some resolution to the disaster that prompted the largest Australian maritime search at that time.

The MV Blythe Star was travelling from Hobart to King Island carrying fertiliser and kegs of beer, when it suddenly capsized and sank on 13 October 1973.

All 10 crew members were able to board an inflatable life raft to escape the sinking vessel, however three perished in the days following.

The horror and trauma that the survivors must have experienced, both on the ocean and in their perilous land journey to find help, cannot be underestimated.

Mick Doleman, who was only 18 at the time, survived and then later served as a branch official with the Seamen’s Union of Australia, and then as the Deputy National Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia.

He is now the last remaining survivor of the disaster. The loss of the vessel prompted the Australian Government of the time to reform maritime safety.

The discovery now is a timely reminder of the continued dangers faced by Australia’s maritime workers and their enduring courage as they undertake nationally important and often treacherous work.

We are grateful to CSIRO and the University of Tasmania for their work in uncovering the wreck.

We must also commend the Maritime Union of Australia for their ongoing work in supporting and protecting all workers in the maritime industries.