Official Press Releases

March 2008 - Posts

  • Media Alert (22nd March 2008)

    What's Coming Up from the Finding Sydney Foundation

    • Vessel demobilisation of the Williamson Sonar Spread in progress
    • Mobilisation of an ROV team and specialist deepwater camera and lighting equipment commenced
    • SV Geosounder expected to depart Geraldton late Easter weekend
    • Imagery of the HMAS Sydney II and HSK Kormoran expected late next week
    • Images to be published at

    For further Media Background Information please download the pdf brief here.

    Media Contact:
    Ted Graham
    The Finding Sydney Foundation
    (+)61-8-9261 7749




  • Media Alert (19th March 2008)

    The Finding Sydney Foundation will hold a media conference after the return of SV Geosounder to the Port of Geraldton, following the successful discovery of the wrecks of HMAS Sydney II and HSK Kormoran.

    Where:  City of Geraldton-Greenough Chambers, cnr of Mt Magnet Rd & Edwards Rd, Utakarra,  Geraldton. 

    When:  10am Friday 21st March 2008


    HMAS Sydney II was tragically lost in November 1941 in the Indian Ocean off Western Australia with its entire crew of 645, following a fierce engagement with the German raider HSK Kormoran.  HSK Kormoran was damaged and consequently scuttled, with 317 of her nearly 400 crew surviving the engagement.

    The Foundation’s chartered vessel SV Geosounder departed the Port of Geraldton, on 3 March to begin the mission, led by shipwreck investigator Mr David Mearns supported by a crew of thirty personnel including Foundation Director, Glenys McDonald and RAN Historian, Lieutenant John Perryman.

    On Wednesday 12 March, the wreck of HSK Kormoran was located approximately 112 nautical miles off the West Australian coast.  Subsequently on Sunday 16 March the wreck of HMAS Sydney was located some 12.2 nautical miles from the German wreck.

    Media Notes

    1. The Directors of The Foundation; Commodore Rick Shalders, RAN, Senior Naval Officer WA; The Hon Alan Carpenter MLA, Premier of Western Australia; David Mearns and Lieutenant John Perryman, RANR, will be available for interview after the media conference.

    2. The SV Geosounder is expected to return to the Port of Geraldton on Thursday 20th March, though her exact ETA will be subject to completion of current work offshore.   Following discussions with Perth TV Networks, one cameraman will film the arrival of the Geosounder with vision being distributed on a pool basis to all networks.  Opportunities will also be made available for print media.  For further information contact Mr Gary Booth, Defence Public Affairs (WA) on 0418 223 807.

    3. Please note the opportunity to board the vessel will not be possible due to re-mobilisation operations onboard.

    4. No media interviews will be conducted onboard the vessel or at the quayside upon arrival. 

    5. Timing for the media event may change due to operations onboard the search vessel or environmental constraints. A confirmation advice of the timings will be provided to all media who register with Gary Booth.

    Media Contacts:  

    Ted Graham
    The Finding Sydney Foundation
    (+)61-8-9261 7749

    Mr Gary Booth
    Defence Public Affairs (WA)
    +61-418 223 807


  • Honouring HMAS Sydney II - The Hon. Warren Snowdon MP (18th March 2008)

    Media Release from THE HON. WARREN SNOWDON MP, Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, 18th March 2008.

    Work has begun on commemoration ceremonies for HMAS Sydney II, the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, the Hon. Warren Snowdon MP, announced today.

    “The national response to the discovery of the final resting place of HMAS Sydney has been overwhelming, and incredibly moving,” said Mr Snowdon.

    “The discovery and the tragic loss of life need to be marked in a manner befitting their significance to this nation.

    “Navy is planning its own, private, ceremony in the near future.  It will include the laying of a plaque and wreath over the site of HMAS Sydney II,” he said.

    Planning has also begun for a national memorial service in Sydney on 24 April.

    “This will provide an opportunity for families and other members of the public to commemorate the tragic loss of HMAS Sydney II and its crew members,” said Mr Snowdon.

    “We will be releasing further details about a venue and timings shortly.”

    A national commemoration will be held on the 19 November, the 67th anniversary of the loss of HMAS Sydney II.

    “Options being considered include a memorial service at the HMAS Sydney II memorial site in Geraldton, WA, and a commemoration onboard the current HMAS Sydney over the wreck site,” Mr Snowdon said.

    “Family members of the crew will be invited.

    “Simultaneously we are planning a ceremonial service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra,” he said.

    The Australian Government is also liaising with the German government regarding appropriate recognition of the loss of their sailors and the HSK Kormoran site.

    Media contacts:

    Kate Sieper (Warren Snowdon):  02 6277 7620 or 0488 484 689
    Defence Media Liaison:   02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664



  • House of Representatives,Votes and Proceedings (18th March 2008)

    Highlighted excerpt from House of Representatives,Votes and Proceedings regarding HMAS Sydney.  Hansard 18th March 2008

    Link::  (PDF Format)




  • HMAS Sydney II Is Found (17th March 2008)

    The wreck of missing Royal Australian Navy cruiser HMAS Sydney (II) has been found.

    HMAS Sydney (II) was tragically lost in November 1941 off Western Australia with its entire crew, following a fierce engagement with the German raider HSK Kormoran.

    The discovery was announced today by the Prime Minister, the Hon. Kevin Rudd, the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, the Hon. Warren Snowdon, MP, Chief of the Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, Vice Admiral Russ Shalders, Chief of Navy and Mr Ted Graham, Chairman of The Finding Sydney Foundation.

    “I would like to congratulate The Finding Sydney Foundation and the Royal Australian Navy on this memorable discovery which will bring some peace to the relatives of the brave crew who gave their lives while serving our nation,” said Mr Snowdon.

    “It is now hoped we may be able to piece together the events of that dark day in World War II when we lost 645 of Australia’s finest.”

    The search first focused on finding the German raider Kormoran which was located on 12 March approximately 112 nautical miles off Steep Point, Western Australia lying in 2,560 metres of water.

    The discovery of the main battle site, less than four nautical miles south of Kormoran’s position, was then used to direct the team’s effort in searching for Sydney.

    The wreck of the Sydney was confirmed late last night, approximately 12 nautical miles off Kormoran , under 2,470 metres of water.

    Mr Ted Graham said they were prepared for the search to take upwards of 35 days so to find them both in a matter of weeks has been a stunning achievement for the entire crew.

    “A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) with video filming capabilities able to operate in depths of up to 3,000 metres will be deployed in order to further examine both wrecks of the Sydney and Kormoran.”

    The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts will make a declaration to ensure HMAS Sydney (II) is protected under the Historic Shipwrecks Act.

    Media Contact:
    Patrick Flynn
    Project Manager
    The Finding Sydney Foundation
    (+)61-8-9261 7749


  • Press Conference Transcript (17th March 2008)



    Location: Canberra
    Date: 17th March 2008
    Time: 9.20AM AEST


    This is a historic day for all Australians, and it's a sad day for all Australians, as we confirm the discovery of HMAS Sydney.

    Last night, the Deputy Chief of Navy Admiral Crane informed the Minister for Defence, Science and Personnel that the HMAS Sydney wreck had been found.

    I'm advised the HMAS Sydney was found some 12 nautical miles from the Kormoran, some eight nautical miles from the scene of the principal battle site, and at a depth of some 2470 metres. 

    I'm advised that the hull of the HMAS Sydney, based on initial sonar findings, has been determined to be largely intact.

    The Australian Government hopes that the discovery of HMAS Sydney brings some closure to the families of the 645 Australian Defence Force personnel who lost their lives bravely in this naval action in World War II. 

    The Australian Defence Force have also informed me that they'll be using their own communications systems to make sure that the surviving family members of the crew of HMAS Sydney are informed of this discovery as soon as is practically possible.

    This will be a hard day for family members associated with the Sydney. This is over 65 years ago, but pain and family loss, even at 65 years removed, is still pain and very deep pain. 

    So, on behalf of the Government, I would say to all those members of the families of the brave members of the crew of the HMAS Sydney that the Government extends to them our condolences for the loss of these brave young men. 

    Further, I wish to confirm that under the Historic Shipwrecks Act, that the Minister for the Environment has informed me that he is in the process of issuing an interim protection declaration in relation to both vessels; that is, the German vessel, Kormoran and the HMAS Sydney.  

    And again, I would thank the Finding Sydney Foundation and the crew members of the Geosounder, together with the Royal Australian Navy, for the support that they have provided to the very detailed and complex task which this has involved. 

    I conclude by saying this, this is a day of - which begins a process of closure for many families of the crew of the Sydney. It's also a time for the nation to reflect on the bravery of all of those who gave their lives in defence of their country in this particularly bloody and brutal naval engagement. 

    If I could ask Ted Graham now to brief you on the details of what the Geosounder has found and then turn to the Chief of Navy to add to those remarks before taking any questions.


    Thank you very much, Prime Minister. In 2001, we established HMAS Sydney Search as a not for profit company run by five volunteer directors to locate HMAS Sydney. Over the years since then, we have raised funds and we have been primarily funded by the Australian, the West Australian and the New South Wales governments.

    We started the search for the Sydney at the end of February. We confirmed we had located the Kormoran last Friday and we confirmed we had located the Sydney, as the Prime Minister has just mentioned, yesterday.

    So far, we are ahead of time and under budget, which is a good thing, so we do have some more funds to go ahead and do some photographic work on the hulls.

    Our intention now is that the Geosounder will come back into Geraldton on Thursday or Friday this week. We will then mobilise a deep water, remotely operated vehicle which has high resolution cameras on it. We will go out and we will go, at this stage, to both the site of the - or sites of the Kormoran and the Sydney and the battle site.

    I should just mention that we are going to be working in de... very deep water with high technology, and sometimes things don't quite go to plan, so it might take us a while to get some proper photography back. But - and that will obviously come from the vessel ashore and be distributed by the normal processes.

    Prime Minister, thank you very much and thank you to our navy colleagues, the new minister, and to our patrons, Tim Fischer, Professor Geoffrey Blainey and Rear Admiral David Holthouse, and I'd like to thank my fellow directors, Don Pridmore, Glenys McDonald, Bob Trotter and Keith Rowe for their support and help over the years, and also the - David Mearns and John Perryman and the team on board the Geosounder.

    I just also like to pass my best wishes to the families of both the Kormoran and the Sydney on this historic day. Prime Minister, thank you.


    Thank you.

    Chief of Navy.


    Thank you, Prime Minister. As has been said, this is a very historic day. For 66 years, this nation has wondered where the Sydney was and what occurred to her. We've uncovered the first part of that mystery. We now know where she is or where she finished. The next part of the mystery, of course, is what happened, and that will take some time.

    It will be helped, of course, by the ROV, remotely-operated vehicle activity, which we hope will occur next week, but it will take some time to try and ascertain exactly what happened that day over 66 years ago.

    It is an exciting day, as well as an historic day for the Royal Australian Navy. HMAS Sydney has always - there has always been an HMAS Sydney in our navy, and I suspect there always will be. The current ship, Sydney, is the fourth in the line, and the third of the air warfare destroyers will also be named Sydney.

    It's an historic name and we've added to the history of that name over the weekend. Thank you.


    Good. Happy to take your questions.


    Mr Rudd, considering there hasn't been any photography taken yet of the wreckage, how has it been confirmed that it is the Sydney, considering it's lying in such deep waters.


    I'll turn to the Chief of Navy on that. I've got to say, one of our reasons for spending through the Defence - Minister for Defence, Science and Personnel, and with navy last night, was to ask, and ask again, and to ask again, and to seek confirmation, and confirmation and confirmation again, before making this morning's statement. It's very important that these things are got right. But I'll turn to Chief of Navy and, if necessary, Ted as well.


    The Geosounder is fitted with a couple of high resolution imaging sonars. These are sonars which are towed in a sled behind the ship, and obviously at great tow length because of the depth of water.

    The initial indication of what we thought might be the Sydney was taken from a low resolution sonar, or one of the systems which does not have it's hi... such high resolution.

    In the course of investigating that contact, we had to - the Geosounder exchanged the system they had down at that time to put the high resolution sled down. And by looking at the images which are transmitted back from the sonar, you can ascertain the length, the height and the width of any contacts that you might have.

    By comparing those dimensions with the designs and drawings that we had, we were able to confirm, firstly, that the Kormoran was the Kormoran, the bow section of the Kormoran is quite distinct, and then during the course of yesterday afternoon and last evening, we were able to confirmed that the second contact was, in fact, the Sydney.

    David Mearns has indicated that there is no doubt that this contact is the Sydney.


    There's no risk it could be another vessel?


    David Mearns, who is our search leader, and has conducted a number of these high resolution runs, indicates that there is no doubt that this is the Sydney.


    Admiral, are you or Mr Graham able to hypothesise, from what you've seen so far, what might have actually happened? Has it told you anything knew about the battle or the fate of the Sydney?


    Not at this stage. It's too early to conduct that sort of hypothesis. What we do know is what we've seen. We have the site of the battle with some battle debris. We have the site of the Kormoran, and we have the site now of the Sydney. How those three sites interconnect, we'll really have to wait until we're able to take some more detailed photographic imagery.


    [Indistinct] surprised that the two ships are so close together?


    No, in fact, the disposition of the wrecks is as it was reported by the survivors of the Kormoran at the time, surprisingly so.


    Were they right all along?


    It seems so, yes.


    What implications do you draw from the hull being int… I think you said, entirely intact, or largely intact?


    The hull is reported as being largely intact from the dimensions that we've been able to gain. I'm not sure you can draw too many inferences at all from that, until we get closer to it and are able to have a good look.


    Prime Minister, the Environment Minister's protection order; can you tell us what that will mean? Can the ships be touched at all or…


    I'll - the Environment Minister will be issuing a full statement on this a bit later in the day. No, but I'm advised that it provides immediate and early protection of the sites against any unauthorised intrusion. And - but the provisions of the f… of the Historic Shipwrecks Act come into force as a consequence of that interim order. It is the protection mechanism which we have available to us under Australian law through that Act of the Parliament, which was enacted in 1976.


    Are there any more plans to try and raise the wrecks eventually?


    I'll turn to…


    Thanks, Prime Minister. No, for a start, they're in very deep water, and secondly from my point of view and from the foundation's point of view, they contain the remains of many people, and our view is firmly that they should be left alone.


    What about pieces of the wreck, like bells or wheels or that sort of thing?


    Can I say, it's important - I mean, I wanted to have those who are conducting the search to respond to that first. It's very important to understand that this is a tomb, and there are 645 Australian soldiers - Australian sailors entombed there, and they include within their ranks six members of the Royal Australian Air Force. And I think the good thing about Australians is that we treat our war dead with respect and these war dead will be treated with complete respect.


    How soon are we likely to see imagery, and once you've got the imagery, how do you go about analysing what might have happened in that battle?


    We anticipate we'll be out on location probably around Tuesday or Wednesday next week. The remotely operated vehicle will be - we will be putting down transmits back to the vessel, and then it's a process of transmitting that photography ashore. And then, the way our agreement with the Government works, it comes from the vessel to the RAN and then is distributed through there, through their systems.


    Mr Graham, just - the closeness of the ships means that the vessels, the allied vessels that rescued the Germans and their lifeboats must have passed close to the area where the Sydney sank. Is the Sydney - is there any indication that it's turned over? Is it lie - is it lying upright or…


    Admiral, you've - upright?


    At this stage, we believe that the hull is largely intact, as I mentioned, and sitting upright on the floor of the ocean. Was there another part to your question?


    Well, the - there's sort of, added poignancy to this whole thing, because presumably, the ships that rescued the German sailors from their lifeboats would have passed through the area where any Australian survivors from the Sydney might have been. Is there any sort of, have you got any ideas on how that might have happened?


    No, I don't, but I would say that that only trace of the Sydney of course, was the life raft, which is now in the War Memorial, and a life jacket. Those two artefacts were found about seven days after the action by one of the search vessels, HMAS Heros. We were searching at that time, seven days after the event, but all that was found from the Sydney was that one Carley float and one life jacket.


    And does this have any implications for the identity of the body on Christmas Island? Does it still fit that that body may have floated to the island on the Carley float from this particular battle site?


    Yes, it does. At this stage, we are almost certain that the body at Christmas Island, which is not yet identified, is a crew member from HMAS Sydney, and therefore the raft that he floated to Christmas Island on was also from the Sydney. The raft of course over there, is long gone. And we're still in the process of trying to identify who that sailor might be.


    Can I ask in addition to any protection under the Historic Shipwrecks Act, would the Government consider making this some kind of memorial, permanent memorial, this whole area at sea?


    During the course of the week, we intend to, with our friends in Defence and elsewhere, look at how best the brave crew of the Sydney are best further commemorated as a consequence of this discovery. And we will make a subsequent announcement on that, because it's very important that we also deal with surviving family members and how these things are best done with decency, in a proper way. The only other thing I'd say, by the way, on your question before is - I'm no naval historian, but the… some vessels go down with all hands and in quite extraordinary circumstances, and others do not. And the history of naval engagements is a bit like that but...


    [Indistinct] contact have you had with the Germans over this?


    The - because the Kormoran obviously is a German raider, the Government advised our embassy in Berlin over the course of the weekend to ensure that the German Government would be appropriately informed. And as I understand it, those communications were made. Furthermore, yesterday morning, as an added precaution, we advised the German Ambassador to Australia of the same. Okay? Thanks very much.


  • HSK Kormoran Discovered in the Search for the HMAS Sydney II (16th March 2008)

    There are high hopes that an enduring maritime mystery will soon be laid to rest, following the discovery of the HSK Kormoran off the West Australian coast.

    Today the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, along with the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, the Hon. Warren Snowdon MP, the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, Vice Admiral Russ Shalders, Chief of Navy and the Finding Sydney Foundation Chairman, Mr Ted Graham announced the discovery of the HSK Kormoran.

    “HMAS Sydney II was tragically lost in November 1941 in the Indian Ocean with its entire crew of 645, following a furious engagement with the German raider HSK Kormoran,” said Mr Snowdon.

    “Now that the Kormoran is found, her position can help pin-point the Sydney’s final resting place.” 

    The wreck of the Kormoran was located approximately 112 nautical miles off Steep Point, Western Australia lying in 2,560 metres of water.

    “Apparently the sonar imagery shows two large pieces of the Kormoran hull remaining,” said Mr Snowdon.

    “And already, less than five nautical miles south of Kormoran’s position the search team have found what they believe is the main battle site.”

    Chairman of the Finding Sydney Foundation Mr Ted Graham said it was great to have found the Kormoran so early in the search.

    “We now have more time to refine and continue our search for HMAS Sydney II, and we have devised a new search box which will be explored over the next 25-30 days” he said.

    Minister Snowdon said that the Federal Republic of Germany had been advised of the discovery of the HSK Kormoran, and the Minister for the Department of Environment, Water Heritage and the Arts is being consulted to ensure the wreck site is protected.

    Media Contact:
    Patrick Flynn
    Project Manager
    The Finding Sydney Foundation
    (+)61-8-9261 7749



  • The Finding Sydney Foundation Approved by Treasurer as a Deductable Gift Recipient (7th Mar 2008)

    The Hon Wayne Swan MP, Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia and The Hon Chris Bowen MP, Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Competition and Consumer Affairs, confirmed The Finding Sydney Foundation has been approved as a Deductable Gift Recipients (DGRs) and tax deductions are available to donors.

    The Finding Sydney Foundation is an organisation formed to find the cruiser HMAS Sydney II and the German raider HSK Kormoran, which sunk off the Western Australian Coast following a battle at sea on 19th November 1941.  The Finding Sydney Foundation also aims to commemorate the memory with a virtual memorial to the sailors.

    Media Contact:
    Ted Graham
    The Finding Sydney Foundation
    (+)61-8-9261 7749


  • Search For HMAS Sydney II Underway (3rd Mar 2008)

    The Finding Sydney Foundation chartered vessel, DOF SV Geosounder, today left from Geraldton Harbour with the hopes of the nation sailing with her.

    On board is a team of international experts who offer Australia’s best chance of finding the resting place of the World War II cruiser HMAS Sydney II, tragically lost in November 1941 in the Indian Ocean off Western Australia with its entire crew of 645, following a fierce engagement with the German raider HSK Kormoran. HSK Kormoran was damaged and scuttled, with 317 of her nearly 400 crew surviving the engagement.

    Directing the offshore search for The Finding Sydney Foundation is international ship wreck hunter Mr. David Mearns of the UK. Mearns and his company have located many deepwater shipwrecks and hold the current Guinness World Record for the deepest shipwreck ever discovered: a German Blockade Runner sunk during WWII at a depth 5,762 metres.

    “This is without question the most challenging shipwreck search I have ever undertaken,” Mr Mearns said before departing, “but we have assembled a first‐rate team and in every way I believe we are up to the challenge.”

    Leading the team of geophysicists and marine sonar experts onboard the SV Geosounder is Mr. Art Wright from Williamson & Associates of Seattle. Their low frequency, deep towed side scan sonar search system will cover a defined area of approximately 1800 sq nautical miles, some 120 nautical miles offshore from Steep Point, Western Australia, in water depths ranging from 2300 to 4200 metres.

    “Phase One of the search is a bit like mowing the lawn, albeit a very large lawn” Mr Mearns said, “We’ll be systematically towing a sonar “fish” along a grid of overlapping track lines that covers the seabed in areas where we believe the wrecks sank. Given the large size of the search area we will be using sonar that can cover this area at an extraordinarily fast rate. Once any contact of a potential wreck is made, we will then make a series of higher resolution narrow swathe passes to confirm the dimensions and characteristics of any target, with any debris field being mapped.”

    Also on board is Foundation Director Mrs Glenys McDonald and the Commonwealth’s observer, Mr John Perryman who is the Royal Australian Navy’s Historical Officer.

    Mrs McDonald, whose passion for Sydney has spanned more than 16 years, said she was honoured to be on board.

    “This search, which has been largely funded by Federal and State Government grants, will be transparent so that all Australians will have confidence in the outcome” she said. “We all feel the weight of the relative’s hopes and desires and we do hope this search will give them closure.”

    The entire search will be covered on board by an independent documentary film team from Electric Pictures, who are working with Film Australia to make a documentary of the search to be broadcast by the National broadcaster ABC soon after completion of the project.

    Media Contact:
    Patrick Flynn
    Project Manager
    The Finding Sydney Foundation
    (+)61-8-9261 7749


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