Search for HMAS Sydney II

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Scott R. Andrews

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"...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.

Mike,

Indeed; this would seem to be the "something" in Admiral Beatty's famously understated observation to his flag captain that 'There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!' after he had just observed the last explosion and sinking of several of his battlecruisers.

Regards,
Scott Andrews
 
Dec 2, 2000
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There was, as it turned out, nothing wrong with the ships. It was the operational practice which turned these ships into floating bombs with the turret serving as the fuse. One hit and it would flash all the way down.

What surprised me was finding out that the 6 inch guns in use on the cruisers of the Sydney's vintage were still using bagged propellants! See http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNBR_6-50_mk23.htm On the question of the magazine loadout, the official loadout was 150 rounds per gun while the real loadout was 200 per gun.

You all may find the photos and diagrams at http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNBR_6-50_mk23_pics.htm to be of some interest.
 

Michael Byrne

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Oct 11, 2006
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Mearns comments that it looks like Sydney's bow broke off through structural failure while cruising slowly away - rather than by an internal explosion. As I commented above I find it supprising that the bow failed at this late stage if it was going to fail at all - rather than sooner during the sharp turn to port which would have subjected the bow to major dynamic side loads. Perhaps the bow was weakened catastrophically by further gun hits from the starboard side in the last stages of the battle, after the turn.

The presence of many of Sydney's boats obviously tells the tragic story of a very rapid final sinking giving the crew virtually no time to deploy them (whether they where seaworthy or otherwise). The end came very fast. Rest in peace.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Mearns comments that it looks like Sydney's bow broke off through structural failure while cruising slowly away - rather than by an internal explosion.<<

He's probably right. This sort of structural failure was common enough, and sometimes, it didn't take battle damage from a pitched firefight to make it happen. The USS Pittsburgh had her bow broken off in a typhoon.

With the sort of damage the Sydney took, it was only a small matter of time before a complete structural failure. Torpedos are not kind!
 

Michael Byrne

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Oct 11, 2006
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>>With the sort of damage the Sydney took, it was only a small matter of time before a complete structural failure. <<

The only time based element I can see is that perhaps the bow was sinking lower and lower as flooding became worse in the bow area.
I'm wondering if the bow breaking off wasn't the actual cause of the sinking, but a result of it. If Sydney capsized on the surface due to degraded stability then that too would lead to high stresses throughout the structure perhaps causing the weakened bow to break during the roll/sinking.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I'm wondering if the bow breaking off wasn't the actual cause of the sinking, but a result of it.<<

It's not unknown. With a honking big hole already blown into the side in that region, it made little difference whether the bow remained attatched to the ship or not. If the watertight boundries were not already properly set by that time, they never would be. If they were compromised by battle damage, then there wouldn't have been enough time to repair any of it.
 

Michael Byrne

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Oct 11, 2006
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>>It's not unknown. With a honking big hole already blown into the side in that region, it made little difference whether the bow remained attatched to the ship or not.<<

So you're saying we shouldn't read too much into the bow loss, it was perhaps incidental and the ship was sinking anyway? Okay, agreed if there was a breaching of watertight boundaries to the point of critical loss of buoyancy, but not necessarily so if the watertight boundaries forward held sufficiently, but then the ship suffered a catastrophic loss of stability and capsized.
Dave Moran made an excellent posting on the 'other' HMAS Sydney thread during our discussions back in Nov 2006 about apparent stability issues observed in the sinking of other similar British designed warships of the era including HMAS Perth of the same class. Perth took considerable damage before rapidly capsizing.
 

Tony Newman

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Apr 7, 2008
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I would like to focus on what they have found, a large collection of stuff grouped together.Does it not look like the Sydney was pounded to pieces in the same general area, rather than the battle the Germans described, and I am curious the lifeboats sitting close to each other, some showing gunfire damage. Detmers was not averse to firing on lifeboats in the past as with the Velebit, where Kormoran was said to continue firing as the boats were lowered.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>So you're saying we shouldn't read too much into the bow loss, it was perhaps incidental and the ship was sinking anyway?<<

Exactly. The loss of the bow may have sped things up by by this time, the ship was already a lost cause.

>>Dave Moran made an excellent posting on the 'other' HMAS Sydney thread during our discussions back in Nov 2006 about apparent stability issues observed in the sinking of other similar British designed warships of the era including HMAS Perth of the same class.<<

And he may be on to something but again, I'm not sure I'd read too much into that either. It is exceedingly rare for a ship to go down on a more or less even keel. Even Titanic exhibited some of the signs of a potential rollover in the making but the break up put a stop to that. Damage taken in combat sufficient to sink a ship is as catastrophic as it is random. I'd be amazed if a ship sunk in this fashion didn't roll over at some point in the sinking.
 

Dave Moran

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Apr 23, 2002
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Here’s an interesting thing

According to the account of the sinking of HMS Manchester on this web-site, there were scuttling charges in the bow.

http://www.divernet.com/cgi-bin/articles.pl?id=3461&section=1023&action=display&show=

It would be interesting to know if this was a standard fit on all cruisers of the time, and how volatile they were.

‘Tis nice to find my name being bandied about with such compliments, I thank you both. However, at the time none of us knew what had happened to the Sydney and I considered the rapid capsize brought about by the flooding of wing compartments to be the most likely scenario to explain the lack of survivors, distress signals and wreckage. It still might be, but the example of Manchester interests me — could it be that these possible charges “cooked off”￾ ?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
Dec 2, 2000
58,587
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Easley South Carolina
From The International herald Tribune:

CORRECTED-Australia WW2 ship found, 66-yr mystery ends
quote:

(Corrects second paragraph of March 17 story to show that the ship was a light cruiser, not a battle cruiser)

By Rob Taylor

Australia's greatest military mystery was solved on Monday with the discovery of a World War Two warship which went down with all 645 crew in a fierce battle with a German vessel more than 66 years ago.

A day after searchers located the wreck of the German merchant raider HSK Kormoran off the West Australian coast, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said they had also found the Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney, sunk by the German ship.
Story at http://www.iht.com/articles/reuters/2008/04/08/asia/OUKWD-UK-AUSTRALIA-WARSHIP.php
 

Tony Newman

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Apr 7, 2008
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I hate to labour this point but:
1.Sydney is in battle, mast shot off, top of bridge shot off
2. Ship sails off and sinks

Why then are all the "bits" with the ship? Conclusion- they sank her right there!
 

Tony Newman

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Apr 7, 2008
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Yes there is a lot to come out regarding that, I would say they are wisely not making any speculations. They have done a great service to the nation you have to say.RIP the Sydney crew and it seems well done especially the gun crew of X turret.
 

Tony Newman

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Apr 7, 2008
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I think the ship was pounded to pieces with no quarter given, and not a man survived.I think the big lie has been that it sailed anywhere.
 

Michael Byrne

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Oct 11, 2006
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Well - no doubt the Sydney was pounded as part of the action, but I see no evidence yet of a 'lie' by the Germans.
Sydney obviously didn't get very far from the scene of the action - but it is none the less displaced from the action by several miles. I think the evidence points to a fairly sudden catastrophic final sinking whilst making her way away - the speed of sinking being the primary reason there were no survivors.
By contrast Kormoran's demise was a planned scuttling, giving the crew plenty of time to make preparations and man the boats.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I think the big lie has been that it sailed anywhere.<<

The location of the wreck several miles distant from where the Kormoran's wreck is located says otherwise.

As to no quarter given, where do you get that impression from? The battle continued as long as both ships were capable of fighting and ended when they no longer were. In naval warfare, that's pretty much the nature of the beast.