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The HMAS Sydney (D48) was named after the city ofSydney Lightcruiser of theduring . She was one of three modified Leander class cruisers of which were built for the and given the late 1930s to the Australian Navy. TheSydneysank after a battle with the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran. The wrecks of both ships were discovered in March 2008.
The cruiser was on 26 June1933 inWallsend-on-Tyne as HMS Phaeton for thelaid the keel, but still bought during the construction ofAustraliaand on 22 September 1934 as HMAS Sydney launched. On 24 September 1935, the cruiser of the Australian Navy went into service. She was the last of the modified three cruisers of the Leander-class in which placed in contrast to the previous units, the engine and boiler rooms back to normal for warships alternating order, were what was the outside of the two stacks (one for each boiler room) to detect. The first-class ships, the boiler rooms were side by side under a single large chimney, followed by the two adjacent machinery spaces. The alternating arrangement of the rooms had been ensured that a single hit at the interface of two departments, or in the chimney could not immediately be eliminated by loss of all boilers or machinery spaces the entire drive.
After its entry into the cruiser in theand was used during the Italo-Ethiopian War in theRed Seain use. On 2 August 1936, Sydney Australia reached for the first time and remained from then until the outbreak of World War II in1939 inAustralian waters. After several months of patrols and escort missions inAustraliaand the Indian Ocean, they met on 26 Again in May1940 intheMediterranean, and there was part of the 7th Cruiser Squadron of the British .
21 June 1940 had the command of Captain John Collins Sydney their first combat mission as they opened fire with other units of. A week later came the 7th Cruiser Squadron on the evening of 28 June at three Italian destroyers. Being able to escape after a brief skirmish, two, the Sydney sank the damaged Espero by other cruisers. Then the cruiser to cover a convoy toMaltawas divided, she stood and took several air strikes on 9 July at the in part. On 13 July, she arrived back in Alexandria, which, however, on the 18th July along with the left again, to strengthen the operating between Crete and Greece destroyer , , and .
On the morning of the 19th reported in July the British destroyer that she had met with two Italian light cruisers. The remaining approximately 40 nautical miles away in Sydney and Havock then approached theat full speed and took part in the clock at 8:30 . The two Italian cruisers Bartolomeo Colleoni and Giovanni dalle Bande Nere turned away on arrival inSydney, trying to escape at high speed now superior British forces. The Sydney and the destroyers gave chase. During the pursuit, the Bartolomeo Colleoni several times by theSydneyhard hit; to 9:23 clock was a hit the helm of the Italian cruiser damaged and he lay drifting. While the firing continued, no more controllable ship was sunk by torpedoes of the clock at 9:59 destroyers Hyperion and Ilex. Against 10:37 clock broke theSydneyfrom the persecution of the second cruiser, as the ammunition ran out the front guns up to ten grenades and returned to rearm and Nachbunkern back toAlexandria. In the battle of the cruisers had received even just one hit in the front chimney. On the way back, there was still more air attacks, in which a single hit was scored on the Havock. On 20 July, the association reachedAlexandria.
In the following months, theSydneywas mainly used to protect convoys toGreeceand for operations in theAdriatic. On27 InJuly sank it along with thesmall tanker Ermioni. Shortly after the successful British attack onTaranto, she reached into the night of 12 to 13 November 1940 along with the cruisers and and and the destroyers an Italian convoy in theStrait of Otranto, where the four cargo ships in the convoy were sunk. TheSydneyescaped while nearly a torpedo boat of the Italian Nicola Fabrizi. After further convoy missions toGreeceandMaltain December, the cruiser was in January 1941 by the as part of the 7th Cruiser Squadron replaced and returned toAustralia, where she arrived in early February.
The battle with the Kormoran
Arriving inAustralia, Captain Collins was replaced by Captain Joseph Burnett. Under its new commander of the cruiser was used from now on patrol and escort duties aroundAustralia. The last mission of theSydneywas escorting the troop transport Zealandia on its way from Fremantle toSingapore. Due to the rapidly increasing tensions troops were moved toMalaysiain order to protect against a feared Japanese attack. The Sydney escorted the Zealandia to Sunda Strait to Fremantle, where on 17 November, the cruiser HMS Durban, the transporter for the rest of the way, took over during the Sydney returned to Fremantle, where on 20 November should arrive.
In the late afternoon of 19 November joined the cruiser on the northwest coast of Australia, some 130 miles west of Shark Bay, suspect on a ship. These were commanded by the Captain Theodor Detmers by German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran, which was disguised as a Dutch freighter Straat Malacca.
The cormorant trying to combat power of their far superior to evadeSydneyat top speed, but on the Australian cruiser had been sighted the ship. TheSydneyovertook it with their greater speed. At the request of the cruiser for identity and destination of the ship, the Germans responded slowly and laboriously, to allow the distance to the rapidly approaching cruisers are as small as possible, should be seen through the disguise and a battle will be inevitable. After the cormorant identified as Straat Malacca and as the destination port inJakarta, had called for theSydneyto the secret identification code of the freighter. Captain Detmers realized then that his attempt to deceive theSydneyhad failed, and at about 17:30 clock ordered to open fire. TheSydneywas this time at 1,500 meters had come and was now within range of the guns of the raider.
Within five minutes the raiders reached about 50 hits with 15-inch guns, and many more with the 2-inch and 3.7-inch anti-aircraft guns. The bridge of the cruiser and the fire control station were destroyed with the first hits, and taken aboard the aircraft, a fuel leak which led to a large fire amidships. Even after the first salvo fell also answer the front two 6-inch gun turrets ofSydney, the rearmost turret Y also stopped after only three volleys, with which he scored no hits. In addition, at least one hit by two torpedoes the cruiser Kormoran bug.
The last X-ready turret of the cruiser fired, however, quickly and accurately; hit smashed in, inter alia, the chimney and the engine room of the Cormorant and caused devastating fires. The Australian cruiser turned on the cormorant, and went in the opposite direction, to use his starboard torpedoes. The four torpedoes were in short supply by the auxiliary cruiser behind. At the same time broke the machine along the cormorant and the ship was drifting. The rear shot guns to be given up until 18:25 on the clock after retreating southSydneyand scored several hits, then the raiders had to because of runaway fires, including those entering the mine camp.
The survivors of the Kormoran could still see strong burning inSydneyto 22 clock in the evening from the south and saw yet another two hours to beat and flames on the horizon. None of the 645 crew of the cruiser could be saved.
Search of the ship
The failure caused theSydneyto Fremantle at first only slight concern. For a delay, it could be many reasons, and because warships are operating under radio silence during the war was not to be expected that something would be announced over the radio. In addition, it was known that the Zealandia had arrived late inSingapore, it had to have been a delay on the way. Later it became known that the delay was the transporter by an event caused by separation fromSydney.
On 24 November reported the tanker Trocas that he had rescued 24 German survivors who reported a fight with an Australian cruiser. Then, as theSydneydespite being asked not to break the silence, announced that the Australian Navy began searching for the ship. During the search a total of 317 survivors of the Kormoran were rescued by the cruiser, however, a week after the fall of 300 kilometers from Carnarvon removed damaged Carley found only one life raft. The raft is now in the Australian War Memorial.
In February1942 afurther raft of the same type with the body of a white man was found onChristmas Island, 2,500 kilometers from the place of battle away. It is generally assumed that it must have been here for a crew member ofSydneyhas since come under consideration of the flow conditions, the raft type and timing of the find no other ships in question. In March 1943, when in Iceland Moreton,Queensland, even a life preserver of theSydneywas found.
Public interest after the war
For the Australian Navy and the loss of theSydneypublic was a huge shock. Until then, the war was far away and took place in Africa andEurope- but had now sunk in a converted merchant ship one of the latest Australian cruiser directly in front of their own coast. TheSydneywas known everywhere by their successes in theMediterranean, it practically disappeared without a trace after the battle reaching a huge interest in the fate of the ship that continues to this day. The 645 casualties, one third of the total losses of the Australian Navy in World War II and today is the largest loss of Australian navy in a day. In the town ofGeraldton, which is near the location of the battle, now a memorial commemorates the cruiser and its crew.
After the war, the end of several conspiracy theories about the destruction of the ship came, based on the fact that all reports were on theBattleof the surviving Germans, whose credibility had been questioned. There was doubt that a battle-seasoned commander as Captain Burnett is so close to a suspicious boat approached, as reported by the survivors. Also, there are no survivors of theSydneywas while 317 of 398 crew members survived the auxiliary cruiser, the skeptics appear highly questionable. They thought it was impossible to believe that a modern cruiser like theSydneyof such a ship as far inferior to the Kormoran was sunk. However, the Cormorant was at least on par with theSydneyforth their weapons at close range. The conspiracy, according to theSydneywould have surprised the cormorant possibly at a meeting with a Japanese submarine, which was associated with preparations for the impending Japanese attack onSoutheast Asia. As the cruiser then ease the raider sank, he was sunk by the submarine itself. In order to conceal the Japanese participation, then all the surviving crew members were killed. This led, among other things, which the museum located in the raft was X-rayed in order to investigate the possible presence of remains of ammunition, but nothing was found.
In 1997, a committee of the Australian Parliament dealt with the issue. He came to the conclusion that there is no serious evidence of the conspiracy. Furthermore, the Committee recommended that the government should find all the experiments, the wrecks ofSydneyand the Kormoran support, also with units of the Navy and also if this would conflict with other priorities of the fleet. On 12 March 2008, as part of the search operation, the wreck of the Kormoran was located. The search for theSydneyhad success shortly thereafter, she was on 16 Found in March 2008.
In addition, the corpse was exhumed onChristmas Islandand a DNA analysis will be subjected. Since, however, lost during the Japanese occupation of the island, numerous documents were gone, it was extremely difficult to find the grave. Apparently this was achieved in October 2006, but ultimately, the results of DNA analysis are not yet known.
Discovery of the wreck
The wreck of the Kormoran on 12 March 2008 by a search team of “The Finding Sydney Foundation” at2,560 mdepth and about 241 kilometers fromSharkBayon the west coast ofAustraliadiscovered in theIndian Ocean(coordinates 26° 5’49″S, 111°4’28″O 26.097055555556111.07430555556). On the basis of scattered debris on the seabed while also the site of the battle between the Kormoran and the Sydney was identified, it is located about 4 miles from the place where the wreck of the Kormoran removed. Shortly thereafter, it finally succeeded in finding the wreck of Sydney. It lies 12 nautical miles from the Kormoran at a depth of about2 km.
The discovery of two wrecks on 16 March (Cormorant) and 17 March (Sydney) announced in 2008 by a formal announcement of the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. In this underwater shots of the wreckage visible damage are consistent with the detailed accounts of German survivors.
Both wrecks were on the 14th as a national monument March2011 inthe Australian National Heritage List on this day.
In August 2009, the three-volume official investigation report of the Australian Government to the demise of theSydneywas published. This is a clear lack of understanding stated that theSydneyapproached the Kormoran so far that the clear superiority of armament and speed ofSydneycould not be played. In addition, should the commander of Sydney, the Kormoran disguised as a suspicious ship to classify, since it was known that possibly disguised German warship, known as “Raider”, staying west of the coast ofAustraliain theIndian Ocean.