The shipwrecks of HMAS Sydney II and HSK Kormoran and associated debris fields are located 22 kilometres apart, 290 kilometres west south west of Carnarvon, off the coast of Western Australia in 2500 metres of water.
HMAS Sydney II sank after a battle with the German raider HSK Kormoran off the Western Australian coast on the 19 November 1941. HMAS Sydney II was Australia's most famous warship of the time and this battle has forever linked the stories of these warships to each other.
A tragic loss of life
The tragic loss of HMAS Sydney II, along with its entire crew of 645, remains Australia's worst naval disaster. HSK Kormoran also sank after the battle and more than 80 German sailors died. Mystery surrounding aspects of the battle resulted in anguish and disbelief that is still evident in the Australian community.
The discovery and inspection of these vessels in 2008 has helped to shed light on one of Australia's most enduring maritime mysteries by reconciling theory and historical fact about the battle with the archaeological evidence identified in the remains of the two vessels. This evidence was pivotal to the findings of the 2009 HMAS Sydney II Commission of Inquiry (Cole Inquiry).
The shipwreck sites of HMAS Sydney II and HSK Kormoran have a special association with the Australian community. This association is especially strong for those family and friends of the naval, airforce and civilian personnel who died as a result of the battle as the sites are their final resting places and a tangible link to their memory. This connection was a driving force behind the public push for location, protection and memorialisation of the remains of HMAS Sydney II and HSK Kormoran.
A permanent memorial
A memorial to the crew of HMAS Sydney was completed in 2001 at Geraldton in Western Australia. The memorial is located high on Mount Scott and looks out across the Indian Ocean towards the site where HMAS Sydney II and HSK Kormoran fought and were both destroyed.
HMAS Sydney II and HSK Kormoran were declared as protected under the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 in 2008 and added to the National and Commonwealth Heritage Lists on 14 March 2011.
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