Sunday, January 01, 2006

1940s prop a unique discovery


Milton Ulladulla Times
by Anne Duffy
February 02, 2005

Arakiwa owner Joe Batagliolo and his son
Santino with the propeller Mr Batagliolo
and his crew dredged up from the ocean
floor off Ulladulla on Australia Day.

The crew of the Ulladulla-based trawler Arakiwa dredged up a piece of history on Australia Day when the propeller from a 1940s naval plane caught in their nets.

The amazing discovery was a huge shock for Arakiwa owner and operator Joe Batagliolo who has been trawling the same area for more than 15 years.

Determined not to leave their unique find out at sea the crew towed the huge tangle of metal back to Ulladulla Harbour where a crane was brought in to lift the more than 60-year-old plane part out of its watery grave.

"It was definitely a surprise to see the propeller in the net," Mr Batagliolo said.

"We were trawling about 14 miles off Ulladulla where the water is about 130 metres deep when we found it at around 11:30am.

"Towing the propeller behind, we didn't get back into harbour until 3pm. "We've trawled there so many times before and never found the propeller.

"Mr Batagliolo and his crew immediately contacted the Australian Navy and a representative was sent from HMAS Albatross to identify the propeller.

The five-blade propeller is at least four metres wide and has rusted significantly. It appears as if the plane, to which the propeller was once attached, hit the ocean with some force as the blades are curled on the ends. "The propellers are warped so it looks like the plane crashed or was ditched.

"We were told it could be one of three planes that have five blades," Mr Batagliolo said.

"It is definitely a Navy plane and could be from the early 1940s."It is one of the most interesting catches we've had.

"We would really like to find out as much about the plane and how it got to be off Ulladulla.

"Despite the excitement the find has also been costly. The tangled net was completely destroyed costing more than $8,000.

"It also wasn't cheap to get a crane on Australia Day to get it out of the water," Mr Batagliolo said.

"But it is still a very rare find. "It would be good it to see the propeller find a home somewhere like the Australian War Museum or with an RSL Club.

"For the moment the propeller is being kept at Costa Engineering until a suitable home can be found.



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