A sea of white marched towards the Kuttabul memorial to pay respects to the 21 crew members who died when a torpedo from a Japanese midget submarine sank HMAS Kuttubul, a converted ferry used as sailor's accommodation in World War II.
One-hundred-and-seventy Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force officers and crew under training marched through Garden Island Navy base to the memorial, where they formed a parade and watched on as Rear Admiral Hideki Yuasa, Commander Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force Training Squadron laid a wreath.
The group then marched to the Royal Australian Navy Heritage Centre, where a wreath was laid beside the conning tower of one of the three Japanese midget submarines which was sunk during the attack.
Commanding Officer of HMAS Kuttabul, Commander Todd Willson, said the ceremony was solemn as befit the occasion.
“The Kuttabul memorial and Japanese Midget submarine are important reminders of the past and also allow us to reflect on how far our two nations have come,” Commander Willson said.
“It was an impressive site to see the Japanese sailors march through the base and honour the memories of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
The HMAS Kuttabul memorial commemorates the 19 Royal Australian Navy and two Royal Navy sailors who died when the ship sunk in the early hours of 1June 1942.
The training officers are part of the ship’s company of three Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force Ships JDS Kashima, JDS Setoyuki and JDS Asagiri, which form the JSMDF Training Squadron and are part way through a three day port visit to Sydney.
The Squadron is visiting Sydney as part of an extended international voyage.