GOVERNMENT and the maritime community say the discovery of the Blythe Star shipwreck is a reminder of the dangers faced by Australia’s maritime workers.

The CSIRO on Monday (15 May) confirmed its research vessel Investigator had found the wreck of the coastal freighter Blythe Star.

The ship disappeared off Tasmania on 13 October 1973. It was travelling from Hobart to King Island when it capsized and sank.

The crew of 10 escaped the sinking vessel in an inflatable life raft, but three crewmembers died before the survivors were rescued 12 days later.

“The disappearance of the MV Blythe Star sparked the largest maritime search ever conducted in Australia to that time,” CSIRO said.

“No trace of the vessel was ever found by the searchers.”

The wreckage was located during a research voyage led by the University of Tasmania, which included an investigation of an unidentified shipwreck pinpointed by fishing vessels and previous seafloor surveys.

“In the aftermath of the MV Blythe Star tragedy, reviews of the incident would directly lead to important changes in maritime safety laws in Australia to significantly improve safety at sea for future mariners,” CSIRO said.

The Maritime Union of Australia said the “Australian shipping tragedy” had a lasting impact on the management and regulation of Australian shipping in the latter half of the 20th century.

“The Blythe Star discovery is a visceral reminder of the importance of Australian Merchant shipping and the professionalism, teamwork, character and extraordinary courage in the face of great danger upon which our rich and at times tragic maritime heritage is based,” MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin said.

“It is a timely and instructive development as the federal Albanese government seeks to renew and entrench that history into Australia’s current and future national interest and security.”

Minister for infrastructure, transport, regional development and local government Catherine King said the loss of the vessel prompted the Australian government 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,” she said.

“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.”

CSIRO said the outcomes of the project have been shared with stakeholders including members of the Blythe Star Memorial Group, which will hold an event in Hobart in October this year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the tragedy.