Report from Cocos

The following report was supplied by Dieter Gerhard, owner operator of Cocos Dive:

I was on the island when A9-754 ditched into the lagoon and was actually in command of the first vessel that despatched from the shore line to rescue the crew from the aircraft. John Clunies-Ross was actually the first person to reach the aircraft as he was fishing on the lagoon at the time. The whole episode was certainly a shock to us all here and thankfully all bar one of the crew survived serious injury. The wreck of the airframe was refloated and towed to the jetty at West Island where an attempt was made to drag it from the water. Unfortunately this could not be completed as the weight of the aircraft exceeded the capacities of the bulldozer and cable. In the end the decision was made to cut the aircraft up at waters edge and tow it piece by piece to the area along side the Shell fuel tanks. (The accompanying photo of the nose section was taken at the Shell depot). For more than a year RAAF personnel made frequent trips to Cocos (K) Islands for the purpose of salvaging hard to obtain parts from the wreck. The cockpit section was for a time moved to the Cocos airport apron, I believe with the intention of transporting it back to the mainland for training / demonstration purposes. Unfortunately I think that earlier intention was later reviewed and I recall hearing that the cockpit was dumped at sea with the remainder of the aircraft and it now lies at least 2km deep which is obviously far beyond recreational dive limits!! For many years there was an engine from the aircraft located outside the Museum on Home Island. It had been placed there with the intention of mounting it as a memorial to Tom Henniker. Some time ago the long neglected engine was moved and I am unsure of its final fate.

8th August 2001


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