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2009 Award of Distinction

M24 Midget Submarine Wreck

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Jury Citation

The M24 Midget Submarine Wreck site in Sydney Harbour presents an exemplary model for in-situ conservation of underwater cultural heritage in the Asia-Pacific region.  Following its discovery in 2006, a full disturbance survey, archival research and extensive dialogue with veterans and other stakeholders have provided the framework for fully understanding and protecting the multiple layers of meaning associated with the World War II-era site.  The physical remains of the largely-intact submarine have been protected by a sophisticated, non-invasive management system appropriate to the underwater environment, including the installation of a pioneering site surveillance system using a real-time camera feed.  The historical and spiritual values associated with the site have been sensitively commemorated, notably through a formal ceremony to honor the war dead and the repatriation of votive sand from the wreck. Among the public at large, an active awareness campaign has ensured that the site and its associations with a significant chapter in history will be widely remembered.  The project is to be commended for setting a new global benchmark in the application of heritage law and conservation practice to protect shipwreck sites and demonstrating best practice in the application of UNESCO’s guidelines for the protection of underwater cultural heritage.