Search for HMAS Sydney II

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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We're getting some preliminary word on a doco about the discovery, followed by a quick release to DVD.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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The show programmed for last night has been moved to 15 April. Perhaps the ABC thought there would be pictures by now.
 

Dave Gittins

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I've seen nothing at all, but they may have got the edge of Cyclone Pancho. We even got some of the tail of it in South Australia.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>but they may have got the edge of Cyclone Pancho.<<

That would explain it then. Cyclones/typhoons/hurricanes are events best avoided. The Sydney's not going anywhere so a few more days of waiting won't hurt anything.
 

Michael Byrne

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Oct 11, 2006
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Stunning pictures.
John Perryman says, (describing the area of the missing bow):
"The damage in this area showed signs of what may have been a violent explosion as the deck had been rent upwards and folded up over the gun barrels of “A”￾ turret."

So - the "magazine explosion" theory as the final terminal event looks increasingly likely.
Presumably the large piece of wreckage nearby is the bow. I'm still intrigued as to what the equally large piece of debris at the battle site is.
Looking forward to more pictures and details emerging.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>So - the "magazine explosion" theory as the final terminal event looks increasingly likely.<<

That would certainly dovetail with the observations given by some of the German survivors. Amazingly, the teak on the deck is still intact but then this species of wood is not well liked by the little beasties which eat wood.
 

Dave Moran

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Apr 23, 2002
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What haunting and beautiful photographs. Thanks for the link.

Is it too early to say, do you think, or can we reasonably conclude that with the damage all being consistent with German accounts there is no evidence for an attack by the hypothesised Japanese submarine ?

best wishes

dave
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Looking at a plan of Sydney, I see that there were several magazines, all in the bottom of the ship and forward. The first from the bow is the small arms magazine, just forward of the first turret. Then follow A shell room, the 6" magazine, B shell room and the 4" magazine. (I've no idea what was in A and B). The 6" magazine is the biggest and is under both forward turrets. There's plenty of scope for trouble there.

I see on local TV that the ratbags are still out there. They are still raving about Japanese submarines and are trying to find something sinister in the absence of lifeboats. Somebody should tell them that wooden lifeboats burn, especially when they are doused with fuel from the ship's aircraft, which caught fire early in the action.
 

Dave Moran

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Apr 23, 2002
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That the turrets are intact mitigates against an explosion of ready-use ammunition such as killed the battlecruisers at Jutland. I suspect we're looking at massive damage, heavy fires, unco-ordinated damage control ( what with all the bridge crew being killed if the damage is massive ). More like what happened to the Russian battleships on the first day of Tsushima.

Or keep in mind 'Exeter' at the River Plate -she survived by the skin of her teeth.' Sydney', designed by much the same team, was unlucky.

Poor men - they must have fought for their ship so determinedly.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>and are trying to find something sinister in the absence of lifeboats.<<

Of for the love of...

I guess nobody ever bothered to explain to these people that warships rarely carry a lot of boats. Even if it was desirable, there would never be enough places to keep all that was needed. That's why they typically carried rafts of some kind. Besides, what boats there are rarely survive long in combat. Something about being blown away by shellfire.

Submarines? Give me a break! Had some sharp sub driver been there and put some fish in the ship's side, they'ed be bragging about it. Not hiding it!
 

Dave Gittins

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HMAS Sydney actually had 'boats for all', unlike a certain ship we all know. They are not much use when they burn.

My son suggested that the ship may have capsized in the end, preventing any sort of organised escape. It's quite common for sinking ships to develop a huge list, then turn upright while sinking, if the water is very deep.

The search for survivors didn't go near the scene of the battle for about a week after the sinking. Early searches were far to the south, because at first it was thought that Sydney was merely late in returning from a mission to Indonesian waters. If anybody got off the ship alive, they had no chance of survival.
 

Dave Moran

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Apr 23, 2002
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Your son is probably right, Dave

This from David K Brown's Nelson to Vanguard - p164.

"From the Amphion onwards, British cruisers had alternating boilers and engine rooms. The forward boiler room had two boilers side-by-side, occupying the full width of the ship. The after boiler rooms had the boilers fore and aft with wing compartments outboard...these contributed to the capsize of several ships, particularly among the small " Dido"s...about seventeen incidents can be identified in which (post-Amphion ) units were involved. Seven capsized rapidly, but in the other ten they retained some mobility and got home "

On pg 166

" The problem with the B(oiler)- E(ngine)-B-E arrangement in RN cruisers lay in the wing spaces alongside the after boiler room. The heel produced by flooding one of these spaces was very small and thought acceptable. However, a torpedo explosion in this area would flood three main spaces and the nearer wing compartment. This would greatly reduce the stability of the ship and the heel from the buoyancy of the intact wing opposite would probably capsize the ship. Five cruisers torpedoed in this area and "Spartan" hit by a large guided bomb all capsized, most very quickly."

However he also notes on p 167 that for most warships, and particularly cruisers " If a ship survived the first few minutes, it had a good chance of lasting an hour"

On magazine explosions p 169

" An ammunition explosion, as opposed to a very rapid fire, needs a rise in both temperature and pressure in the compartment. A charge may be ignited by hot splinters or by high temperature from a fire started outside the magazine...temperature and pressure will build up and an explosion is alost inevitable...an explosion is more likely when the charges are tightly packed. It takes very little time for the pressure to build up...a severe fire may raise the temperature of the magazine sufficiently high to cause hih explosive shells to detonate..."

From p171

" There were some trials in 1936 which showed the vulnerability of fixed ammunition...when a 6 inch CPC, filled Shellite, was fired into 98 rounds rack-stowed there was a short pause followed by the complete disintegration of the magazine. In the next trial a 6 inch round was fired into 94 rounds, box stowed, resulting in a fire which destroyed the storage in 48 minutes : it was thought that had the space been confined there would have been an explosion "
 
Dec 2, 2000
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The issues regarding stability are one of the reasons that a lot of U.S. warships were built with mainspaces segemented by transverse bulkheads but not longitudinal bulkheads. This wasn't always a hard and fast rule but you can see that it had trended that way for a lot of the ships built in the 30's and during the course of the war. Even then, stability issues were always a problem because you still had voids on both sides of the ship which existed as torpedo protection. As anyone on a ship nailed with a Long Lance torpedo could tell you, it wasn't always effective. Even then, when you get a lot of hits mostly on one side, assymetric flooding is a problem.

One thing that I've been struck with is the trouble that British built and/or designed warships have had with magazine explosions. Curiosly enough, this wasn't always a consequence of any design flaw. One of the dirty little secrets of the Great War was that the magazines of capital ships were often overloaded. With a train of ammunition and propellants running from the guns all the way down into powder magazines, including on or in the hoists, you essentially had a fast burning fuse going all the way from the turret down to the powder magazines themselves. It was this charming little practice which caused the real carnage at Jutland.
 

Dave Moran

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Apr 23, 2002
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Quite true -because the British have always put a greater premium on rate of fire rather than accuracy. Practices in the BC squadron under Beatty crossed verged on the reckless, for example.

Cruisers of WW2 such as Sydney are functioning in the original role intended for the battlecruiser, intercepting enemy raiders on the high seas, where again it's a matter of who can throw the most weight, quickest, into the enemy. So there may again have been less than stringent control of the fire-paths into the magazines.