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Kormoran Lifeboat

Vessel Number: HV000030
Date: c 1930s
Dimensions:
Vessel Dimensions: 7.5 m (24.6 ft)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
Significance
The lifeboat from the World War II German armed merchant raider KORMORAN is a metal craft whose construction background remains unknown. It carried survivors from KOROMORON after the naval engagement between HMAS SYDNEY and the KORMORAN in November 1941 where both vessels were lost. Its builder and background are not documented and it may even have come from another craft raided by the KORORON. The lifeboat has symbolic importance as one of the few items that remain extant in connection with this tragic and significant battle.
DescriptionThe lifeboat is made of rivetted steel plate, fitted with thwarts and had an engine as well. It may have been built for the KORMORAN when it was a cargo vessel STEIERMARK, built in Keil Germany and launched in 1938 for the Hamburg-America Line . However under its guise as an armed raider the German auxiliary cruiser KORMORAN, the ship had seized items including lifeboats from some of the vessels it raided and sank, so this may have come from another cargo ship.

The battle between the KORMORAN and HMAS SYDNEY took place off the Western Australian coastline on 19 November 1941. They engaged at very close range after HMAS SYDNEY had moved in to investigate the KORMORAN which was attempting to pass itself off as the Dutch ship STRAAT MALAAKA .

HMAS SYDNEY went down with the loss of all of its crew, while KORMORAN was scuttled after receiving extensive and disabling damage from HMAS SYDNEY's guns.

318 survivors from KORMORAN made it to shore on lifeboats from the ship, and it is understood 60 were in this steel lifeboat. They then became prisoners of war in Australia.

No trace of the wreck of HMAS SYDNEY or the KORMORAN was found for decades despite many searches of the area where the short battle took place. The exact location of the battle and the subsequent course the disabled SYDNEY took before sinking out of sight of the KORMORAN remained uncertain for many years. However, the wreck of HMAS SYDNEY II was located on 16 March 2008 near the coast off Steep Point, Western Australia 66 years after it sank. It was situated 10 kilometres from the German ship KORMORAN, which had been located a few days earlier.

In 2001 a surviving KORMORAN crew member came back to Australia for a memorial service, and confirmed that this was a lifeboat that had brought some of the survivors to the shore. In 2013 the lifeboat has been housed and conserved by the Carnarvon Heritage Group as one of the feature vessels in their collection.
Vessel Details
Current status:hard stand/cradle
Current status:inside building
Current status:non-floating
Current status:non-operational
Current status:on public display
Hull material and construction:steel
Hull shape:canoe stern/double endedDE
Hull shape:displacement
Hull shape:monohull
Hull shape:round bottom
Related materials:interviews
Related materials:news clippings
Related materials:photos

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