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DRAMATIC RESCUE OF 13 MEN: SPOTTED BY PLANE MELBOURNE, Thursday Thirteen survivors of a ship sunk off the coast of New South Wales were rescued from the sea to-day. Clinging to a mass of drifting wreckage, the survivors were spotted by an R.A.A.F. reconnaissance plane, the pilot of which was attracted by a column of smoke. The plane notified a ship, which picked up the men.

The Navy Office announced to-night that the ship, a small coastal vessel, sank after an explosion, the cause of which was unknown. There was a crew of 20, of whom 13 were saved. The men missing are:-Captain By santsen, Chief Officer C. Chapman, Third Engineer A. McAllister, Greasers Carlson, Hulton and E. Hallet, and Able Seaman W. Gorry. The first announcement of the loss was made in the House of Representa tives by the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Hughes) to-night. He said, "I regret to announce that a ship has been sunk off the New South Wales coast. We have received a message that sur vivors were not picked up until 6 o'clock to-night. I can assure the House that the necessary-steps to safe guard shipping in the area have been taken." Mr. Hughes added that he hoped to make a more complete statement later. R.A.A.F. signals relayed to Canberra told a dramatic story of the first news of the disaster. In a statement giving details of the rescue, the Minister for Air (Mr. McEwen) said that R.A.A.F. personnel had been responsible for saving 13 survivors from the vessel. At 3.15 p.m. an amphibian aircraft,

piloted by a senior officer of the R.A.A.F based on the New South Wales coast, took off on a reconnaissance flight seaward. Soon after taking off the pilot saw smoke several miles out to sea. lie altered course and made for the spot immediately.- A great deal of wreckage was floating on the surface. The pilot landed the 'plane but found the water much rougher than he had expected. Because of the seas and the extent of the wreckage, he was unable to taxi close to one large piece of the flotsam, to which he could see a group of men clinging desperately. He taxied the machine some distance to the lea of a small island, where sheltered water enabled him to take off. The pilot intended to return directly to his base to obtain help. Soon after wards, however, he sighted another ship in the- vicinity. Flying low, he signalled to it, informing it of the posi tion of the wreckage and directing it to steam immediately to the scene. The ship lowered a boat and took the 13 men on board. After the rescue of the men the 'plane returned to its station but a wide search of the area was made by aircraft from another coastal base.