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NAME

HMAS. SYDNEY

CLASS

LIGHT CRUISER

ENT/SERVICE 

SEPTEMBER 24th1935

BUILT

SWAN HUNTER / WALLSEND ON TYNE / ENGLAND

WEIGHT

7,290 TONS

LENGTH

562 FEET

WIDTH

56 FEET

SPEED

31 KNOTS - GEARED TURBINES - FOUR PROPELLERS

GUNS

8 - 6 INCH / 4 - 4 INCH / 8 - 21 INCH TORPEDOES

ARMOR

4 INCH SIDE / 2 INCH DECK / 1 INCH TURRETS


Sydney was a modified Leander class light cruiser built for the British Navy with the intended name being HMS Phaeton. Before this ship could be commissioned, the Australian Navy bought her to be operated under the name Sydney. The early stages of World War Two saw Sydney serve in the Mediterranean alongside British cruisers. That role led to her being involved in the sinking of one Italian cruiser and two destroyers. On November 19th 1941, approximately 150 miles west of Shark Bay/Western Australia, Sydney came across the German armed merchant raider Kormoran.

HMAS Sydney

Unaware the Kormoran had guns hidden on her decks and torpedo tubes below the waterline; Sydney was taken in close to identify what the Australians thought was an ordinary merchant ship. This gave the crew of Kormoran their only chance of defeating the warship. As Sydney neared the German ship with most of her crew on deck to view what seemed to be a routine check, the Kormoran’s crew uncovered their guns and opened fire. The following battle ended with both ships sunk. Of the 397 crew onboard Kormoran, 317 were rescued five days later. Of Sydney’s 645 crew, all vanished without trace. The only items found from the warship were a lifebelt and a Carley life float that had been damaged by shellfire. The Kormoran survivors stated they last saw the cruiser badly damaged and ablaze steaming towards the Australian coast. Some people have since claimed the Sydney sank first and the Kormoran’s crew machine-gunned survivors in the water before scuttling their own ship.

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