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HMAS Sydney in remarkable condition thanks to paint job

Staff reportersMidwest Times

Despite lying in 2500m of water for 75 years, the wrecks of the HMAS Sydney II and HSK Kormoran could be around for many generations to come.

In 2015, a joint expedition between the WA Museum and Curtin University into the state of the two wrecks revealed they were in remarkably good condition.

WA Museum chief executive Alec Coles said one of the reasons the Sydney was so well preserved was because of the paint.

“The paint is doing its job and protecting the metal underneath, even after all these years in extremely deep water,” he said.

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“Where there is paint, there is little to no rust. Where the paint is gone, there is a lot more rust in those areas.”

Damage inflicted by the Kormoran's guns to the HMAS Sydney II's midship.
Camera IconDamage inflicted by the Kormoran's guns to the HMAS Sydney II's midship. Credit: WA Museum and Curtin University

As Australia prepares for the 75th anniversary of the loss of both ships this weekend, Mr Coles believes Sydney will still be in a good condition by the 150th anniversary.

“The information we collected has shown that both wrecks will be around for several more generations, which is very good news,” he said.

“But, importantly for Sydney, the still intact paint could add another 50 to 75 years to that.”

The data from the study were used to determine how quickly the two wrecks were degrading and will affect how the WA Museum will look after the sites.

Mr Coles said although the final resting places of the ships were only 20km apart, the wrecks were in very different conditions.

Anemones growing on the husk of the Kormoran, 2.5km below the surface.
Camera IconAnemones growing on the husk of the Kormoran, 2.5km below the surface. Credit: WA Museum and Curtin University.
Anemones growing on the husk of the Kormoran, 2.5km below the surface.
Camera IconAnemones growing on the husk of the Kormoran, 2.5km below the surface. Credit: WA Museum and Curtin University.

“Sydney is still structurally quite intact, much as it would have been at the time of sinking.

“Kormoran, however, was scuttled (deliberately sunk) by the captain after the engine room caught fire, and the incredible force of the subsequent explosion caused considerable damage to that structure.”

The WA Museum is responsible for managing both wreck sites under the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act (1976).

Both ships lie about 200km off of Shark Bay.

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