Technology throws light on raider’s chilling past

Technology throws light on raider’s chilling past

Haunting new images of the German raider HSK Kormoran have emerged from its ocean grave 200km off WA.

They show one of the ship’s guns that helped sink the Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney on that fateful day in November 1941.

The gun was named “Linda” and a skull and crossbones were painted below it.

Another image shows a list of the ships either sunk or captured by the Kormoran during its World War II duties. One of the ships on the list is the Australian cargo freighter SS Mareeba, which was attacked and sunk by the Kormoran in the Bay of Bengal just five months before the Sydney battle.

The Sydney battle, which ended with both ships sunk, resulted in the loss of the Australian ship’s entire crew of 645 and about 80 of the Kormoran’s crew.

The new images were among more than 700,000 captured as part of a joint Curtin University and WA Museum expedition to the wrecks of the Kormoran and the Sydney this year.

THE SYDNEY AND THE KORMORAN
STUNNING IMAGES
THEORY OF SYDNEY’S LOSS BACKED BY PICTURES

Going through the images was always going to be a time-consuming project, but some of the early results have exceeded expectations.

“We are seeing things that nobody has ever seen before — some things we didn’t expect to see,” WA Museum chief executive Alec Coles said yesterday.

“But beyond the images of the two ships are emerging some very human stories.

“It was clearly common practice for guns to be given names. We know the guns on the famous German battleship Bismarck were called Anton, Bruno, Casar and Dora.

“It can only be conjecture as to why the German crew of Kormoran decided to call this gun Linda.

“What we do know is that this crew was very proficient at what they did. They were proud of their achievements, as evidenced by the list of 11 defeated ships painted on both the port and stern sides.”

The names, written in German, begin with the Greek freighter Antonis (sunk on January 6, 1941) and finish with another Greek freighter, Stamatios G. Embiricos (sunk on September 26, 1941).


A list of ships sunk by the Kormoran, painted on to the side of the Kormoran. Picture: WA Museum

The expedition team has also released a sonar survey image of the Sydney lying on the seabed.

It shows a destroyed bow (at the right of the picture) and damage to other key features.

But several of the ships’ guns are evident and seem intact.

The different colours differentiate the height from the sea floor.

LATEST
1500 FRONT PERTH SUNDAY COURT
EYE INJURY AFTER GLASSING
MH17 FAMILIES DEMAND JUSTICE
FIXED MORTGAGE RATES HIT NEW LOW
AUSSIE TEEN FEARED MURDERED IN CANADA
WA JOINS FIGHT AGAINST CANADIAN FIRES
LIBERIA’S CHIMPS FACE STARVATION

Curtin University research engineer Andrew Woods said the image was created from a device that emitted 256 beams across the wreck.

He said it would assist the project group in its plans to build 3-D reconstructions of the wrecks. “We are just dipping our toes into this enormous 700,000-image resource that we now have,” Dr Woods said.

“But part of the reason we took so many images was to allow us to use relatively new technology to create incredibly realistic reconstructions.

“We believe the reconstructions will give people a real appreciation of the scale and dimensions of these wrecks.”

Mr Coles said that using the images to create interpretive experiences for visitors to museums in Geraldton, Perth and the Eastern States would cost more than $1 million.

He said it was hoped that money could be raised through the WA Museum Foundation to help cover the cost of the project’s second stage.

To donate to the Sydney Kormoran project, contact Karen Bassett, of the WA Museum Foundation, on 6552 7675 or [email protected] wa.gov.au. Donations can also be posted to WA Museum Foundation, Locked Bag 49, Welshpool DC 6986.

Leave a Reply