Wednesday, February 23, 2005


All they saw was the deep, blue sea

By Jonathan King
February 23, 2005

The crew of the HMAS Sydney.

Some say the HMAS Sydney, sunk off the West Australian coast by a German cruiser in 1941, does not want to be found.

There have been "at least 20 searches led by approximately 50 different leaders since 1941", says Dr Mike McCarthy, a maritime archaeologist from the West Australian Maritime Museum who has joined several expeditions to find the wreck. None has found even a trace.

For months after the disaster the Australian navy and air force searched the area, before returning their attention back to the war.

Interest waned after the navy finally closed the file in 1945. Three decades passed before this classified file was released to the public.

In 1981, Michael Montgomery, the son of one of the lost sailors, mounted a search using the navy's main survey ship, HMAS Moresby. McCarthy, who was on board the Moresby, says they found nothing other than seismic anomalies.

The discovery of the Titanic in 1985 inspired McCarthy to mount another expedition in the Moresby in 1992. A wave of amateur expeditions in fishing boats followed throughout the 1990s - all without success.

In 1995, Carl Swanson led an expedition aboard The Knorr, the US Navy-owned survey vessel that discovered the Titanic.

There were other attempts, including naval patrol boats and RAAF Orions equipped with magnatometers, used to detect large metallic objects.

Most recently, John Begg, the chief executive of the oil and gas explorer Voyager Energy - and a member of the Finding Sydney Foundation - mounted a fruitless search over the 2002-03 summer.


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