HMAS Sydney was sunk so quickly because of the huge firepower of its adversary

And the overconfident Capt. Burnett was careless enough to put his ship where all that firepower could be used against it

New reconstructions of the encounter between HMAS Sydney and German raider Kormoran show how the Sydney was lost. Computer re-enactments show the Australian warship was not only hit by a torpedo but also peppered with close-range gunfire. HMAS Sydney was lost with all 645 crew on November 19, 1941, following a battle with the disguised Kormoran off the West Australian coast.

Observations from the wreck site and accounts from Kormoran survivors have enabled a team of defence scientists and naval architects at the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) to create computer graphics of the battle between the two warships. The stark images were shown at an inquiry into the ship's sinking in Sydney this morning.

The graphics, shown from the Kormoran's view, show Sydney's port side being sprayed with shellfire and then hit by a large torpedo, before the ship turns and is bombarded with more shellfire on its starboard side. Another graphic then shows the doomed warship sinking onto its side as black smoke billows out.

"The battle between HMAS Sydney and HSK Kormoran was unique as a sea battle in that HMAS Sydney was not only hit by a torpedo, but also pounded by accurate and sustained gunfire from close range for an extended period of time," Commodore Jack Rush QC told the inquiry. "Other World War II ships had survived single torpedo hits, while others survived shell hits from larger calibre shells. "HMAS Sydney, however, had to endure the sustained attack of 15 centimetre shells at close range, 20 millimetre shells raking the upper deck at a rate of more than 100 rpm, and sustained shelling by 3.7 centimetre guns."


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