Towards the end of the Second World War, Japan introduced a number of suicide weapons in an attempt to slow the advance of Allied forces. The Shinyo suicide launch was one of these weapons - a speed boat filled with explosive charges that would be driven towards an enemy vessel and detonated. Whilst these and other suicide attack methods resulted in thousands of casualties and significant damage to Allied shipping, they were not able to slow the advance.
Construction of the boats – designed to be one-man suicide craft armed with 300 kg charges of TNT – began in 1943. By the end of the war about 6,000 had been produced, most built of wood but a few from steel. The Shinyo, or Sea Quake, were mostly deployed around the islands of the Philippines and Japan, and were hidden until they could be of use.
This launch was captured by the crew of HMAS Deloraine at Sandakan Harbour, British North Borneo, during its occupation by Australian Naval and Military Forces in October 1945. It was one of six in an immediate state of operational readiness – complete with petrol – amongst 30 launches discovered in Sandakan Harbour.
The sailors from Deloraine used this launch recreationally as a ski boat on Sandakan Harbour. After being re-painted green by the crew, the Shinyo launch returned to Australia with Deloraine in late 1945 and was later presented to the Australian War Memorial.