A marine archaeologist says the relatives of a second world war shipwreck have just as much need to know where the bodies of their loved ones are as the victims of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Former Wetherby resident Tim Akers said he has undisputable proof where the wreck of where the HMAS Sydney II went down, claiming the lives of 645 crew, despite claims by a rival.
“I know where the wreck of Sydney is and have proof, through my Merlindown system,” said Mr Akers of Gascoigne Crescent, Harrogate.
The Australian warship was critically wounded in combat with a disguised German vessle in the Indian Ocean in November 1941 which Mr Akers said was never in doubt.
He said he has a full subsea sonar scan of the HMAS Sydney II lying 4000m down to the North West of Australia.
But this is 60 nautical miles from where historian David Lee Mearns claims the wreck to be.
“The relatives of those lost on the Sydney have as much right to know where the bodies lay as the families of the missing Malaysia airline which is currently being searched for,” added Mr Akers.
“I have had people approach me to bring closure about this, particularly in recent weeks because of the search for the plane, but the issue is being clouded by claims from Mearns.”
Mr Akers claimed to have discovered the wreck in 2006 using his then experimental digital photography system Merlindown from his then Wetherby home.
But in March 2008, famed sea explorer David Mearns claimed to find the wreck.
Mr Akers added: “The explorer David L Mearns appears to have taken on full responsibility for the alleged discovery, history and filming of the wreck apparently supported by, amongst others, the FSFT and the Royal Australian Navy.
“We should stress that the ship was never lost – it was always in the same place, which is here we found it.”
Mr Akers describes the sinking of HMAS Sydney II as Australia’s Titanic as it was the greatest single loss of Australian life in the war, and the fractured hull of the Sydney would be the country’s largest war grave.
Despite its scale, the ship sunk without trace and left many hundreds of families waiting for closure with the victims bodies never laid to rest.
Mr Akers has written to the Australian government about his claims, also available on www.australias-titanic.com