A grant of almost $500,000 will allow high-resolution pictures to be taken of the wreck of HMAS Sydney for the first time. On 19 November 1941, HMAS Sydney was involved in a mutually destructive engagement with the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran, and was lost with all 645 aboard.
The battle between HMAS Sydney and German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran was a single ship action which resulted in the sinking of both ships
The half-hour long engagement occurred on 19 November 1941, during World War II, after the two ships encountered each other approximately 106 nmi (122 mi; 196 km) off Dirk Hartog Island, Western Australia. The exact location of the two wrecks remained unverified until 2008.
Controversy has often surrounded the battle, especially in the years before the two wrecks were located in 2008. How and why a purpose-built warship like Sydney was defeated by a modified merchant vessel like Kormoran was the subject of speculation.
HMAS Sydney came too close
According to German accounts Sydney approached so close to Kormoran that the Australian cruiser lost two key technical advantages: its heavier armour and the superior range of its guns.
Kormorans 5.9 in (150 mm) guns were concealed behind false hull plates and cargo hatch walls, which would swing clear when the order to decamouflage was given, while the secondary weapons sat on hydraulic lifts hidden within the superstructure. The ship could be disguised as one of several Allied or neutral vessels.
The location of both wrecks was finally discovered in 2008, after years of searching.
Now, the WA Museum, Curtin University and other partners will use high-resolution imaging technology to survey the shipwrecks in much greater detail than has ever been possible.
The imaging will be used to first build a heritage management plan for the sites, and eventually be part of the creation of a virtual visitor experience to give people permanent access to the wrecks.