New high resolution images from 2.5 km underwater appear to confirm why HMAS Sydney was so quickly disabled, leading to catastrophic damage and the loss of all on board — 645 crew — during World War II.
The $2.4 million survey sent ROVs (Remote Operated Vehicles) deep off the coast of Western Australian to capture images of HMAS Sydney and the German raider HSK Kormoran which sank on November 19, 1941.
The images captured by Curtin University on board DOF Subsea’s vessel Skandi Protector clearly shows, for the first time, a 15 cm shell hole through the bridge at the compass platform.
Alec Coles, the WA Museum CEO, says the remarkable discovery supports the theory that the Sydney’s bridge was destroyed within the first 30 seconds of the battle.
That put the ship’s command structure out of action and her ability to effectively fight back was severely disabled.
“This also supports the German captain Theodor Detmers’ account of the battle which states the first salvo to hit Sydney was a direct hit to the bridge,” says Coles.
Watch the new footage of the wreck of HMAS Sydney:
When the wrecks were found in 2008 the shell hole was not obvious, presenting as a shadow in the photographs taken.
Innovative imaging technology developed by Curtin University is throwing new light on the historic wreck site in 2,500 metres of water, 20 km apart, about 200 km west of Steep Point at Shark Bay.
The project has the support of the Royal Australian Navy and the Naval Association of Australia, representing veterans’ interests.
The shell hole can be clearly seen in this still image: