Search for HMAS Sydney II

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
5,342
34
208
David Mearns, who found the Hood, is hoping to locate the wreck of HMAS Sydney before the 60th Anniversary of the end of WWII later this year. He has been researching the Sydney since 2003, but was hired this month by the Finding Sydney Foundation.

Hope they do find her. Lost with all hands, she represents Austalia's largest loss of life in a naval engagement, and - while there are no guarantees - locating the wreck might answer some questions about her loss.

The families of those who perished with her, while there are some understandably ambiguous feelings about locating her, deserve to know where she lies.
 

Jim Hathaway

Member
Dec 18, 2004
311
0
86
This was an amazing action, Sydney was a light cruiser, and Kormoran was a German Auxillary Cruiser,(read armed merchantman)
I wish them luck, it would be interesting to see what kind of condition Sydney is in.
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
4,965
210
193
All seems to have gone quiet on the Sydney search.

After getting government support for the first phase of the search, David Mearns said he would look for Kormoran using sonar. He stressed that it would cost a great deal more to send cameras to the wreck. Since then, nothing seems to have happened. Mearns's company site has not been updated for years.

Anybody got any recent news?
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
4,965
210
193
Maybe it's funding. I think it's likely that Mearns simply hasn't a clue where to look.

The original navigational data is vague and the waters have been muddied by wild speculations. The navigational data for Titanic was bad enough, but the data for Kormoran and Sydney is very weak.

Another problem is that Kormoran may be a very difficult target. If a good number of her mines exploded, Mearns would not be looking for a sunken ship. She'd just be so much scrap steel.

It's all very well to get enthusiastic about finding Sydney if you don't have to pay for it.
 

Michael Byrne

Member
Oct 11, 2006
43
0
76
Yes - good point about Kormoran's intactness or otherwise.

From memory though, the mines were stored towards the stern so it's possible a large part of the bow/midships is intact? Also, I think she was observed by the survivors to sink by the stern which would perhaps indicate (as you might expect) gross damage to the stern from in explosions, but perhaps much less up front.
Of course this neglects where the magazines for the 5.9", smaller guns and torpedoes were stored, so it's all speculation really.

>>It's all very well to get enthusiastic about finding Sydney if you don't have to pay for it.
Very true Dave. But fascinating none the less.
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
4,965
210
193
I know we Aussies can be ratbags, in some cases raving ratbags, but this one takes the cake.

http://www.postnewspapers.com.au:80/20061216/news/002.shtml

I notice that these weird tales all come via the same paper. I don't know what the paper's general reputation is. Maybe it's like Weekly World News.

As with Titanic, quite a cottage industry has grown up around HMAS Sydney and some of the "theories" are right up with the nuttiest Titanic tales.
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
4,965
210
193
The Post is in fact a free, rather parochial, paper, with a circulation of 50,000. It contains stories about local matters on the coast near Perth. No major paper has run it's stories about HMAS Sydney.
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
4,965
210
193
I keep checking on Mearns without any results. His web site is still incomplete, so there's no news directly from him.

My gut feeling is that nothing will happen unless the Australian government funds the whole thing. Mearns after all is out to make a profit from books and TV. The navigational data he has is very vague and the search would be very difficult and might end in failure. In the end, there's no money in a book or TV show called How I Didn't Find HMAS Sydney.
 

Michael Byrne

Member
Oct 11, 2006
43
0
76
I agree.
Mearns' problem I think is that he needs to FIND Sydney in order to make it a commercial success, and as said earlier with scant data (even with the newer theories) the search areas are still enormous. So it's a big risk for him.

I don't understand the Australian Government's reluctance to fund the search - at national government level it's not a HUGE expense and the potential for good patriotic publicity for a find is great. Indeed, it seems to me there's almost an air of discontent with the government from various circles (relatives etc.) for their apparent lacklustre approach to the whole Sydney affair. Contrast this with the US approach to missing Vietnam victims - substantial sums spent on discovering the remains & repatriating fallen service men.
The repressed conspiracy theorist in me wonders if the government perhaps..... is reluctant to have Sydney found..... ?
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,590
380
283
Easley South Carolina
>>The repressed conspiracy theorist in me wonders if the government perhaps..... is reluctant to have Sydney found..... ?<<

I doubt it. I think it's more like it's not high on the list of priorities. Kind of like Dr. Ballard's search for the Titanic was an afterthought thrown in at the end of a very different mission. Finding lost warships...or lost liners for that matter...doesn't get votes. However, bread and butter issues such as health care, and jobs do get votes.

Any way you look at it, it's all about the funding priorities.
 

Michael Byrne

Member
Oct 11, 2006
43
0
76
>>Finding lost warships...or lost liners for that matter...doesn't get votes.

Yeah - ordinarily I'd agree, but the Sydney is.... well, THE Sydney, Australia's most well known and infamous ship loss. Finding her would I'd have thought, be worth quite a bit of qudos and votes. There'd certainly be a fair bit of press coverage. Perhaps it boils down to what may be Mearns' problem - too many unknowns, high chance of failure.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,590
380
283
Easley South Carolina
>>Yeah - ordinarily I'd agree, but the Sydney is.... well, THE Sydney<<

And the Titanic is....well...the Titanic, but I don't see any government falling all over itself to explore the wreck. With the exception of the NOAA presence, most of the expeditions out there have been privately underwritten. (And this is with the wreck in a well known location.)

>>Perhaps it boils down to what may be Mearns' problem - too many unknowns, high chance of failure.<<

That may well be the case. As far as I know, Australia's government doesn't have very extensive oceanographic exploring resources and locating wrecks isn't even a blip on the radar screen. If the HMAS Sydney is to be found, I expect it'll be done using private resources.
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
4,965
210
193
Australia has plenty of oceanographic resources, but they are equipped for ordinary surveying, with the usual echo sounders, GPS and so forth. We also use airborne surveying equipment. We don't have anything like the Mirs or the Woods Hole submersibles.

Some Aussie cynics say watch out for a government announcement on Anzac Day, 25 April, a few months before the federal elections.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,590
380
283
Easley South Carolina
>>We don't have anything like the Mirs or the Woods Hole submersibles.<<

And that's the real problem when you get down to the nitty gritty. Unreliable navigation data doesn't help either. Surveys are one thing, actually locating something in very deep water when you're not entirely sure you're even looking in the right place are something else entirely.

I wonder if somebody can rope Dr. Ballard into this one? He has quite the talant for pulling this sort of thing off.