An Australian team searching for a lost World War II cruiser have located the wreck of the German merchant raider Kormoran that sank it.
The discovery of the wreck, 2Â½ kilometres underwater off the Western Australian coast, is a breakthrough in the long-running efforts to find the last resting place of the Sydney and its crew of 645 sailors.
The Sydney was lost with all hands after a fierce battle with the Kormoran on November 19, 1941. The location of the light cruiser and the circumstances of its sinking have been among the biggest mysteries in Australian military history.
The breakthrough came after the Finding Sydney Foundation, backed by $4.2 million in Federal Government funding, began a search earlier this month, towing sonar equipment through 1800 square nautical miles.
The foundation's chairman, Ted Graham, said yesterday the search team had identified the wreckage as the Kormoran on Saturday. It was lying on the seabed about 240 kilometres west of Shark Bay at a depth of 2560 metres.
The search team had also found debris on the sea floor about six kilometres from the Kormoran, which they believed marked the site of the main battle between the two ships.
Armed with the new information about the location of the Kormoran and the main battle, the search zone for the Sydney had now been narrowed down to an area of about 300 square nautical miles.