Built by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Limited at Wallsend-on-Tyne, England. Laid down on July 8, 1933 as HMS Phaeton (I48). In 1934, purchased by the Australian Government in and renamed in memory of the earlier HMAS Sydney. Launched on September 22, 1934 by Mrs S. M. Bruce, wife of the Australian High Commissioner to Britain and commissioned at Portsmouth on September 24, 1935.
On November 19, 1941 at 4pm, while returning
to Fremantle from Java, HMAS Sydney sighted German merchant raider Kormoran about 200 miles west of
Carnarvon, Western Australia. For 90 minutes the Kormoran tried to pass
itself off as a Dutch vessel but when the deception failed,
opened fire on HMAS Sydney with guns and torpedoes. The action lasted
30 minutes with both ships being crippled and set ablaze and both sank. The HMAS Sydney's entire crew of 645 were lost, the greatest ever loss of life on an Australian warship. Sydney was also the largest vessel of any country to be lost with no survivors during the war.
After the sinking, Allied ships searched for survivors of the Sydney but none were found. Search vessesl included Pan Europe, Hermion, MS Herstein, Nordnes and Ohio.
Searches were carried out for the shipwreck by the RAN between 1974 and 1997. Discovered March 17, 2008 at 26°14′31″S 111°12′48″E at 2,468 metres (8,097') below sea level, 11.4 nautical miles south-east of the wreck of the Kormoran. The bow of the cruiser had broken off as the ship sank, and was located at the opposite end of a debris field stretching less than 500 metres.
Both wrecks were placed under the protection of the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976. Both wrecks were placed on the Australian National Heritage List on March 14, 2011.
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August 18, 2018