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HMAS Sydney

The Coral Adventurer will sail through the night and day to visit the site of the wrecks of the HMAS Sydney and HSK Kormoran for an evening ceremony and guest lecture to commemorate this significant event in history.

On 19 November 1941, the HMAS Sydney [II] was sunk in combat alongside the German auxiliary cruiser HSK Kormoran. None of the Sydney’s 645 personnel survived, making this the most devastating loss ever experienced by the Royal Australian Navy. The Sydney was a modified Leander class light cruiser, built in 1935 in Portsmouth, England. Almost immediately after departing Portsmouth she was instructed to join the Royal Navy Mediterranean Fleet at Gibraltar to help enforce sanctions against Italy relating to the Abyssinian Crisis. After arriving in Australia in 1936, Sydney spent most of her time on training exercises, until the Second World War began. Following the declaration of war, Sydney began patrol and escort duties in Australian waters, before heading to the Mediterranean to join the 7th Cruiser Squadron of the Mediterranean Fleet. Sydney’s most important action in Second World War was her involvement in the Battle of Cape Spada in July 1940, where she was crucial in the defeat of the Italian cruisers Bartolomeo Colleoni and Giovanni delle Bande Nere. This performance against the Italian Navy made Sydney the most celebrated ship in the RAN.

After returning to Australia to be refitted, she engaged in several patrol and convoy escort duties, visiting Singapore, Noumea, Auckland and Suva in the first half of 1941. On 19 November 1941 HMAS Sydney engaged the German auxiliary cruiser HSK Kormoran, which had been disguised as the Dutch merchant Straat Malakka. Sydney was critically damaged in this engagement, sinking with all 645 crew on board. While the Kormoran was also lost in the engagement, 318 Germans were rescued. The fact that no Australian accounts exist of the battle led to many rumours, accusations and conspiracy theories, particularly due to the view that the Kormoran (a modified merchant ship) should have stood no chance against a cruiser. Some of these theories were finally put to rest when the wrecks of both ships were discovered off the coast of Shark Bay, WA, in 2008.

Our Story

Australia’s Pioneering Cruise Line
For over 30 years Coral Expeditions has had one purpose – taking small groups of like-minded explorers to the most remote parts of the world, with expert guidance and warm Australian hospitality. Coral Expeditions was founded by a fisherman with a passion for the sea. Then named Coral Princess Cruises, the small North Queensland based company explored the Great Barrier Reef and pioneered small ship expedition cruising to the Kimberley and Papua New Guinea. Today, Coral Expeditions has grown to include voyages to Tasmania, Islands of the South Pacific, New Zealand, and the Indonesian Archipelago. Our Australian crew provide warm hospitality and personal service on board. Shore-rich itineraries in remote locations allow our guests to be immersed in local cultures, get close to wildlife, and enjoy adventurous land and sea activities in safety. We invite you to celebrate 35 years of exploration with us.

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