Search for HMAS Sydney II

Michael Byrne

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Oct 11, 2006
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I'm no expert in the field of marine surveying - do we have any experts on this forum?

Titanic was discovered by essentially visual means - dragging underwater cameras over a smallish (by potential HMAS Sydney terms - very small) but reasonably well defined search area until a debris field was located leading to the major wreck pieces.
In the 20 years since Titanic's discovery, has technology moved on at all in the area of underwater surveying? Are technologies such as magnetic anomaly detection of large iron/steel masses - used extensively in maritime reconnaissance aircraft for submarine detection only useful perhaps in shallow depths/short ranges? Any other emerging technologies?

Dreaming...wouldn't it be great to have, say, a satellite equipped so that it was able to pinpoint all the sunken wrecks in the World by some sort of metallic signature.... hello Sydney, hello Waratah, Cyclops....
 
Dec 29, 2006
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The WWII cruiser HMAS Sydney is regarded as a war grave and, as such, it is conceivable that the Australian authorities may not want the wreck to be found. Once the location of the wreck is made known, looters will inevitably move in, as they have done in the case of the Repulse and other WWII vessels.
 

Michael Byrne

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Oct 11, 2006
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Well - that's a fair point. I wouldn't have a problem if the precise location of the wreck were kept secret following a successful search, nor that any investigation of the wreck be on a strictly look, no touch basis.
But my feeling is also that the relatives are owed more 'due process' than the current status quo and that an official search is warranted to answer the unique questions surrounding the Sydney's sinking. Unlikely to happen though.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Australia is right up with the leaders in remote sensing. It's routinely used all over the place, mostly by the mining industry.

The problem is that the people who have the equipment and the aircraft insist on being paid. Also, a search forSydney would divert them from more profitable work. Would you rather find a shipwreck than a giant copper mine?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I wouldn't have a problem if the precise location of the wreck were kept secret following a successful search...<<

Nor would I. The problem is that secrets like this seldom keep for long. Somebody finds out who's willing to squeal.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I wish these people the best but I don't have any illusions here. Finding something on the bottom with sonar isn't the problem. Identifying it is the problem. Especially when something which looks mighty like a ship turns out to be a rock formation.
 

Michael Byrne

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Oct 11, 2006
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I was re-reading Olson's "Bitter Victory" recently (definitely one of the best accounts of the Sydney/Kormoran encounter, the search and the aftermath) and noted that apparently two separate oil patches were observed by searching Catalinas on Fri 28th Nov. 1941 (Day 5 of the search)

"One Catalina had seen a 'patch of oil five miles south east of the position of reported action'. The other Catalina reported seeing a patch of oil outside it's search area....."

I wondered if anyone had any info on why these oil patches were discounted - no further search action seems to have taken place at/around them. I thought the description "five miles south east of the reported action position" particularly significant due to Sydney's last reported steaming direction away from the scene of action - always assuming this position was ascertained and reported correctly.
 

Dave Gittins

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The patch of oil SE of the scene of the action seems significant, though how accurate the Catalina's navigation was is open to question.

By the time it was sighted, it would have drifted roughly north for some miles. If it originally marked the spot where Sydney sank, it didn't mark it five days later. I think it points to the essential accuracy of the German testimony, but it's not all that helpful in locating Sydney.

At the time, I assume not much notice was taken of it, because no boats or rafts were found with the oil.
 

Michael Byrne

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Oct 11, 2006
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>>I think it points to the essential accuracy of the German testimony, but it's not all that helpful in locating Sydney.

I agree with the accuracy of the German testimony, but surely if one takes the oil patch seriously as a Sydney candidate it provides a much tighter search area - even allowing for the possible error factors in Catalina navigation and drift assessment doesn't it narrow the search to one say, on a par with Dr. Ballard's Titanic search area rather than the huge expanses previously discussed? Of course, the oil could have originated from Kormoran, but it's certainly a good starting point for a search.
 
May 27, 2007
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Thanks Dave
Interesting tall tale here. I love a good Story. Especially read what Mr. Arkers former boss Mr. Mearns thinks of his effects. All sounds pretty fishy to me. Forgive the bun, corny I know. Where's the Proof, is what I wanna know. In Pudding probably. Ha Ha
couldn't resist.
Thanks again Dave for sharing.
 

Dave Gittins

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I'm wondering if there is villainy at work.

There is a man called Timothy Akers MA BSc who is listed by the National Maritime Museum in Britain as a marine researcher. He claims rather broad expertise, but there's no hint that he's a nutter.

The story has not been taken up by our ABC, or by the BBC. I suspect the tale is being checked, perhaps via his e-mail address, which is online. Maybe it's not Akers who is telling a tall tale.
 

Michael Byrne

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Oct 11, 2006
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What amuses me is the fact that he claims to have determined the nationality/identity of the numerous vessels he claims to have identified under the sea - all remotely by satellite !!
Wow!! Satellite technology has certainly come a long way. They'll be spying on fish next....
 
May 27, 2007
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Michael >>What amuses me is the fact that he claims to have determined the nationality/identity of the numerous vessels he claims to have identified under the sea - all remotely by satellite !!<<
So he says. Well I still say the proof is in the pudding.
Satellite technology has come a long way.