HMAS-2SUBSEA vision systems developer Teledyne Bowtech has provided a portion of its technology to researchers surveying World War II shipwrecks off the Western Australian coast.

Australian warship HMAS Sydney II and the German raider HSK Kormoran were destroyed in battle on 19 November 1941 about 200 kilometres west of Shark Bay, Western Australia.

For many years the fate of the Sydney and her 645 crew was a mystery until both wrecks were found in 2008, with photographs taken at the time failing to explain how the Sydney could have been so comprehensively disabled.

To assist with their research, Teledyne Bowtech gave staff from Curtin University and the Western Australian Museum ten LED-V-20K lamps, which were used on each of two remotely operated vessels to survey the wreck.

This work was filmed using a Surveyor-HD-Pro camera and a 3D-HD camera system, also provided by Teledyne Bowtech, as part of a suite of equipment used on the project.

Curtin University Centre for Marine Science and Technology research engineer Andrew Woods said the expedition had been a success, with researchers capturing what he said was “amazing footage.”

According to Teledyne, this footage clearly showed damage to the Sydney which supports the theory that the bridge was destroyed and the ship’s command structure lost early in the battle, as reported by a survivor from the Kormoran.

“There have been comments that we’ve set a new benchmark in maritime archaeology – which is what we set out to do,” Dr Woods said.

“The lights performed really well providing some rich colours and wonderful lighting effects. The Surveyor-HD-Pro camera operated flawlessly.”

The research team now has the task of reviewing the 50 terabytes of data, around 700,000 still images and some 300 hours of high definition video collected during the week long survey.

The intention is that the images of both shipwrecks will be used to create multi-platform museum exhibitions to capture the unique heritage value of these ships for future generations and to honour the lives lost in what is still Australia’s greatest naval tragedy, Teledyne said.