The wreck of the German merchant raider HSK Kormoran, responsible for the war-time sinking of HMAS Sydney in November 1941, has been found off the Western Australian coast.
The Finding Sydney group made the breakthrough discovery about 150km west of Shark Bay, lying in 2,560 metres of water.
'This is an important part in resolving a 65 year old puzzle,' said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
The HMAS Sydney was attacked southwest of Carnarvon by the disguised German raider Kormoran and both ships were sunk in the battle on November 19th, 1941.
Chairman of the Finding Sydney foundation, Ted Graham, says the discovery of the Kormoron means the search area can be narrowed to 300 nautical miles.
'This gives us a cornerstone if you like, to start the search for the Sydney from. So if we hadn't found Kormoron it would have made it much more difficult,' Mr Graham said.
'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 added.
Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon, said that the Federal Republic of Germany had been advised of the discovery of the HSK Kormoran and Mr Rudd assured that the site of the wreck would be preserved.
'Whatever side we were on in this appalling conflict where so many people lost their lives - there are families involved here,' Mr Rudd said.
was a German auxiliary cruiser ( a German equivalent to a Q ship )
that was sunk during battle off the West Australian coast
barely more than 2 weeks before Pearl Harbour was attacked
the ship that intercepted it - HMAS Sydney
was also lost, but with all hands
till this day the location of the wreckage , and the true nature of the battle has never been fully known
the official line is the HMAS Sydney strayed too close under routine inspection
and was crippled in the opening barrages
it doesn't ring very true , when you consider HMAS Sydney's operational record
her shooting, and her professionalism was not in doubt to those that saw that ship in service
- her battle history at that point had few peers
this was a ship with reputation like no other british ( australian ) service vessel
the unofficial line is that HMAS Sydney was trying to seize the secret communications cypher
and that perhaps Japanese submarines, and harbour spies
aided the Germans to track the Sydney and her precious consorts
- the great troop ships
( the big , big ones feeding Singapore with re-enforcements
its plain somebody knew something was about to go down )
and perhaps also had some part in the final duel
- Japanese warships effectively had battle orders by november 16 1941
and much communication between the British , Australian and American governments for this period are still classified secrets
( as well as implication Chinese spy rings had also details of impending attacks for pearl and other regions )
much was ado at that period
there is much implication that Australian and British far east experts had broken Japanese naval cypher
- long before the official US line
and that Japanese involvement in Sydney's loss ( spies, not just subs )
was deliberately covered up
and the search for survivors deliberately delayed then misdirected
- so as to protect current operations to get cyphers elsewhere
and also to help draw the US into conflict on the allied side
the loss of HMAS Sydney stunned the nation
- the crews total loss amounts to Australia's worst naval disaster
in the investigations
much evidence from locals has been discredited, perhaps unfairly
even a squadron commander , having a drink at a local bar, and overhearing plain signal wireless distress calls
- yet occasionally the odd dying wireless / signit operator hint of the cover ups
its a mystery with few parallels
- it represents a huge unanswered question mark for many historians, and more Australian families
may the full truth come out, sooner than later