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The Search for the Sydney - HarperCollins 2009

For sixty-six years it was Australia’s greatest maritime mystery: what happened to the ‘pride of the fleet’ HMAS Sydney — was it beaten in a fair fight with the German cruiser Kormoran, or was there treachery involved? Could the Kormoran’s survivors’ account of the battle and its aftermath be believed? Why were there no survivors from Sydney? And where was the wreck?

David Mearns first heard the story of the Sydney in 1996, and it left an indelible impression in his mind. One of the world’s foremost shipwreck hunters, David had successfully located dozens of wrecks in much deeper water. But hunting down the Sydney, a challenge he accepted in 2002, proved his toughest yet, testing his skills as a detective, engineer, marine scientist and navigator. David’s quest, which unfolded over six years, took him around the world, from the war archives in Germany, to the homes of Kormoran survivors, and then to Fremantle, Western Australia, and out to the Indian Ocean. He would encounter conspiracy theories, false clues, cyclones and myriad mechanical problems, but, in 2008, he would finally record the astonishing words, ‘HMAS Sydney found!’

Here, for the first time, David tells the full, dramatic story of his search for two ships, Sydney and Kormoran, whose paths crossed one fateful day in 1941. His riveting account answers the questions which have dogged Sydney’s disappearance. Featuring never-seen-before photographs of the wrecks, beautifully detailed maps and a wealth of historical images, this is a book for collectors and general readers alike, an incomparable adventure story set on the high seas.

 

 

 

Hood and Bismark - Pan Macmillan 2001
The Deep-Sea Discovery of an Epic Battle

In May 1941 the most dramatic sea battle of the Second World War took place. Its protagonists were the two mightiest capital ships of the era - the German battleship, Bismark, and the British battlecruiser, Hood. Their confrontation would result in the destruction of both warships and the loss of over 3,500 lives. In 2001 - the sixtieth anniversary of this apocalyptic battle - David Mearns led an expedition that discovered the wreck of Hood for the very first time and revisited the wreck of Bismarck. With Rob White tracing the history of these awe-inspiring vessels and the events that led to their fatal clash, Hood and Bismarck chronicles the progress and findings of this incredible mission.

Launched in 1920, Hood was the largest and most modern warship of her era - as the Bismarck was of hers. Although twenty years her senior, Hood boasted similar guns, displacement and speed - the outcome of their confrontation was by no means a foregone conclusion. In reality, however, Hood faltered under the hail of deadly accurate shells from Bismarck, sinking in a matter of minutes - only three of her crew survived. Reeling from the loss of their 'Mighty Hood', the Royal Navy unleashed the full might of its air and sea forces to find and destroy Bismarck. Eventually found by an RAF Catalina as she ran for the French coast, Bismarck was sunk after a two-hour battle. Only 115 survivors were picked up from a crew of 2,200.

Tying into a major Channel 4 series, Hood and Bismarck follows the expedition to find Hood that is the climax of six years' painstaking detective work and planning by David Mearns and his team at Blue Water Recoveries. Using unique footage of Hood and Bismarck collected from his expedition, Hood and Bismarck seeks to provide some of the first answers to questions that have fired controversial debate ever since 1941: Was Hood's rapid sinking the result of her thin deck armour, leaving her vulnerable to plunging shells? Was Bismarck really sunk by torpedoes or did these only hasten the scuttling that had already been put in motion? Drawing on unique evidence uncovered by the expedition, with analysis from naval historian Dr Eric Grove and warship expert Bill Jurens, Hood and Bismarck seeks to shed new light on the cataclysmic demise of two of the last great battleships.