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HMAS Sydney

HMAS Sydney II in front of Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s been 73 years since the ship was sunk off the WA coast, a disaster that cost 645 lives.

Peter Law, HMAS Sydney II: 73 years since 645 crew lost off WA coast in Australia’s greatest naval tragedy, PerthNow, 25 November 2014

Australia suffered its greatest naval tragedy 73 years ago with the loss of HMAS Sydney II off the WA coast.

Sunk on November 19, 1941, by the HSK Kormoran, a German raider disguised as a Dutch merchant ship, none of the Sydney’s 645 crew survived.

Now, an expedition will capture the final resting place of the World War II ships, which were discovered 200km west of Shark Bay in 2008.

Two Lost Ships is a collaboration between the WA Museum, Curtin University, the University of WA and underwater exploration company DOF Subsea.

The project will collect high-resolution video and still images, both in 2D and 3D, to create a state-of-the-art virtual visitor experience.

The aim is to create a full 3D reconstruction of the Sydney II’s hull, allowing it to be seen in its entirety for the first time.

The technical challenge, to document two wrecks lying 2500m below the Indian Ocean surface in total darkness and hundreds of kilometres from land, is unprecedented.

Underwater recording on this scale has never been attempted and the team is working at such depth they fully expect to discover new life forms.

Painstaking testing is being carried out by remote digital imaging experts at an aquatic research facility at Curtin’s Technology Park in Bentley.

The expedition, due to be launched over two weeks next year, will use two DOF Subsea ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) fitted with LED lights and cameras encased in pressure-proof housing.

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