17 March 2008

...and now HMAS Sydney

The wreck of HMAS Sydney has been found , reports the ABC website.

News.com.au has further details:

The wreckage of HMAS Sydney, sunk off the West Australian coast during World War II, has been found, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced today.

The ship's entire crew of 645 went down with the ship in the Indian Ocean and its location has been a mystery for 66 years.

The wreckage of a German ship - the merchant raider Kormoran - believed to have sunk the Sydney was found at the weekend in waters about 800km north of Perth.

Both sites are likely to be protected as war graves. Mr Rudd said Environment Minister Peter Garrett was in the process of issuing an interim protection declaration in relation to both ships.

"The environment minister will be issuing a full statement a bit later in the day, but I'm advised it provides immediate and early protection of the sites against any unauthorised intrusion," he said.

Mr Rudd said the Sydney was found yesterday, about 22km from the Kormoran.

"I'm advised that the HMAS Sydney was found some 12 nautical miles from the Kormoran, some eight nautical miles from the scene of the principal battle site and at a depth of some 2470 metres," Mr Rudd said.

Hull intact

Mr Rudd said the hull has been found largely intact. But Chairman of the Finding Sydney Foundation, Ted Graham, said there were no plans to raise the ships.

"For a start they're in very deep water, and secondly, from my point of view, and from the foundation's point of view they contain the remains of many people, and our view is firmly that they should be left alone," he said.

Mr Rudd said it was important to understand that the Sydney was the tomb of 645 Australian sailors and air force members.

"The good thing about Australians is we treat our war dead with respect and these war dead will be treated with complete respect.'


The Prime Minister said the Federal Government hoped the find would bring some closure for the families of the 645 sailors who went down with the ship.

He said the Australian Defence Force would be contacting family members.

"They will be using their own communications systems to make sure that the surviving family members of the crew of HMAS Sydney are informed of this discovery as soon as is practically possible."

Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, Vice Admiral Russ Shalders, said it was a very historic day.


"For 66 years, this nation has wondered where the Sydney was and what occurred to her, we've uncovered the first part of that mystery ... the next part of the mystery, of course, is what happened.

"It will take some time to try to ascertain exactly what happened that day over 66 years ago."

Admiral Shalders said there had always been an HMAS Sydney in the Australian navy.

"It's an historic name and we've added to the history of that name over the weekend."

Standby for more information, interpretation and speculation.

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