Tuesday, May 29, 2007

 

Claims sunken warship finally found

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Adelaide Now
By Vincent Morelli
May 29, 2007


A british maritime researcher claims to have solved one of Australia's greatest wartime mysteries by locating the wreck of HMAS Sydney.

Timothy Akers also says he has discovered the whereabouts of the German raider Kormoran that sank the Sydney off the coast of Western Australia in November 1941, killing all 645 men on board.

And the wrecks of a number of Japanese warships and submarines, also believed to have been involved in the battle, are lying on the ocean floor nearby, Mr Akers claims.

However, Mr Akers' claims have been rejected by his former employer – now competitor – and prompted a plea from the Australian Government to reveal the whereabouts of the wrecks.

The Bulletin magazine reported that Mr Akers previously worked for the renowned shipwreck hunter David Mearns, who sacked him in 1998.

In 2005, the Australian Government offered a $1.3 million grant to the Perth-based company HMAS Sydney Search, which contracted Mr Mearns' services, to locate the wreck.

But the conditional grant fell short of the $4 million HMAS Sydney Search said the project required.

Several British experts have supported Mr Akers' findings, but Australian officials want proof.

Mr Akers has refused to divulge all of the details of the technique he used to locate the sunken vessels, which incorporate satellite images and radiation readings to detect images underwater.

He claims to have located the vessels in the Indian Ocean off Shark Bay and Carnarvon – an area also favoured by Mr Mearns.

However, Mr Mearns has rejected Mr Akers' claimed discovery as "total bullsh*t", The Bulletin reported.

Mr Mearns said the designated search area takes in 1600 square nautical miles of depths between 2300m and 4300m.

Mr Akers has offered to tell the Federal Government the location of the wreck if a formal request is made and providing "this wreck is not robbed".

"I have also found a number of Japanese vessels – two submarines and possibly a Japanese aircraft carrier in the general vicinity of HMAS Sydney," Mr Akers said.

"The Kormoran and another Japanese submarine is further north."

Mr Mearns said the idea of a submarine being involved "is nonsense".

Although all died on board the Sydney, 317 of the 397 men from the Kormoran survived.

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