Search for HMAS Sydney II


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>>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.
 
>>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.
 
>>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.
 
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.
 
>>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.
 
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....
 
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.
 
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.
 
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?
 
>>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.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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