The case of the ‘Koshin Maru’

One morning in mid-October 1975, Peaceful Bay residents awoke to the news that the 224-tonne Japanese tuna boat, the ‘Koshin Maru No. 1’, had run aground east of Irwin Inlet.

There was an air of intrigue and mystery surrounding the ship right from the start as the crew of 20 were immediately whisked away from the scene.

The boat was left unattended for a time but in November, Oliver Birch, the then Peaceful Bay caravan park proprietor, was appointed caretaker in order to stop pilfering. According to Mr Birch the ship’s bridge was well fitted out and maintained and the engines, which were only one year old, were also in good condition. Mr Birch reported that despite its rusted appearance the hull was only six years old.

DOOMED—The headline of the 'Albany Advertiser' on November 27, 1975 when the ship’s Japanese owners decided they didn’t want it.

DOOMED—The headline of the ‘Albany Advertiser’ on November 27, 1975 when the ship’s Japanese owners decided they didn’t want it.

In January 1976 it was announced that the ship had been purchased by Boomerang Fisheries, a Western Australian company eager to enter into tuna fishing. Partners in the group were F Poland, MG Kailis and J Lombardo.

It was estimated that the cost of re-floating the vessel would be approximately $50,000. Plans for re-floating were carefully developed but much depended on favourable weather and tides.

It wasn’t until January 29, 1976 that the huge undertaking was attempted. The ‘Koshin Maru’ steamed off the beach after a 25-hour struggle to free her. After being a source of great interest and speculation for months, she slipped quietly away with a trawler from Perth.

All the gear for the refloating operation was sourced locally. This included six pumps, two bulldozers, and other necessary smaller equipment. The task of bringing the equipment back across the Irwin inlet was in itself extremely daunting. High tides hampered the work. Some of the gear was successfully brought across on January 29 but shifting could not continue until February 1. There were audible sighs of relief when the job was finally done.

Not the same boat! ‘Koshin Maru No. 28’ (

Not the same boat! ‘Koshin Maru No. 28’ (

As for the ship, it is understood that the ‘Koshin Maru’ was renamed ‘Boomerang’.

As far as we know the ’Boomerang’ never came back. A big thanks to the Albany Public Library for digging up the old Albany Advertiser for the pic — Editor

This article first appeared in the November 19, 2014 edition of the Walpole Weekly (PDF). Molly Smith is a regular contributor to the Weekly with her “Looking Back with Molly” column.

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