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  SS Pruth (Moresby Wreck)
British
Cargo




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Click For Enlargement

5th AF c1943


43rd BG c1943

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Click For Enlargement

Justin Taylan 2005

Ship History
British cargo vessel.

Sinking History
During January 1924, grounded during a storm on Nateara Reef, south of Port Moresby. The ship was driven further onto the reef, cargo was transferred to smaller boats and then the ship was abandoned. Later used as the backdrop for the Hollywood movie, "Red Morning" released in 1935 by RKO-Radio. The wreck was nearly sold to the Japanese for scrap metal in 1940. Instead, Australians salvaged 200 tons of metal from it, and one propeller in 1941.

Wartime History
Known as the "Moresby Wreck", the Pruth shipwreck was use for strafing and bombing practice for U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aircraft durig 1942-3.

On at least several occasions, Japanese aircraft attacked the shipwreck, mistaking it for an functioning vessel. One February 28, 1942 escorting A6M2 Zeros of the 4th Kokutai test fired their guns on the wreck, before strafing RAAF Catalina flyingboats moored off Napa Napa.

Also, on March 25, 1942 a single bomber bombed the ship
Seek & Strike page 19: "bombers came in 0915 on 25 March, and ground observers thought one was hit by anti-aircraft fire, as it left formation and bombed the old wrecked ship, the SS Pruth, but missed."

While used as training target, several Allied aircraft were lost accidentally on training missions. First, on November 10, 1942 DB-7 Boston A28-12 exploded mid-air over the wreck, killing the entire crew. Then on February 5, 1943 B-25 41-12502 hit the mast and crashed killing the entire crew. On February 21 B-25C "Draft Dodger" 41-12968 was damaged by a premature bomb blast and ditched, without fatalities. On May 31, 1943 Beaufighter A19-73 hit the mast and crashed, killing two but two managed to survive. On July 27, 1943 B-25D 41-30496 crashed killing the entire crew. Finally on September 29, 1943 B-25D 41-30053 crashed killing the entire crew. In total, 20 Allied personnel were killed attacking the wreck during 1942-1943.

Shipwreck
After use as a training aid, the remaining wreckage was scrapped down to the waterline.  Only the ship's boilers and a portion of the stern are above water, and on a clear day visible from Port Moresby areas including Ela Beach to Koki. From the air, the outline of the ship is still visible. Reportedly, local fisherman have salvaged bullets and unexploded bombs from around the wreck. Underwater, only broken remains of the ship too difficult to salvage or scrap still remains.  Few pieces look like that of a ship, aside from a few port holes, gears and bolts visible.

References
Wrecks & Reefs page 208-220

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Last Updated
January 10, 2018

 

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