Australian Dollar Coins - 2000 HMAS Sydney II Dollar

November 9, 2009

2000 HMAS Sydney II One Dollar
On 19 November 1941 the HMAS Sydney sank after heavy combat action with the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran. The Sydney, the second such Australian ship to carry the name, sank with the loss of all 645 crew. It is the largest Australian naval loss on a single Australian warship and was the largest loss of life on an Alllied ship in WW2 where all hands were lost. The exact circumstances of the tragic loss remain unclear to this date, and it was only in March 2008 that the wrecks of both the Sydney and Kormoran were located off the coast of Western Australia after many years of fruitless searching.

The Sydney, a modified Leander class light cruiser was the same class as the English cruisers the Ajax and Achilles which were famous for chasing down the German battleship, the Admiral Graf Spee. While not so famous the Sydney served with great distinction in the Mediterranean and sank an Italian light cruiser, many enemy merchant ships, and took part in several shore bombardments. After Japan entered the war the ship was refitted and sent back to Australia in early 1941 where she was refitted once more and undertook months of patrol and escort activities in the Indian Ocean. In the year 2000 the RAM released a standard Al/Br dollar to remember the 645 Australian sailors who lost their lives on the Sydney, and appropriately the launch ceremony was held on the flight deck of the HMAS Sydney IV on Monday May 8th, 2000.

The obverse of the coin shows the normal Ian Rank-Broadley portrait of QE2, the reverse shows a depiction of the HMAS Sydney II as sculpted by Vladimir Gottwald. The coin minted in the standard 9 gram Aluminium Bronze configuration was available in collector folders with either the C (for Canberra, 86,900 minted) or S (for Sydney, 49,022 minted) mint marks. 2922 of the S mintmark coins were packaged in a specially printed folder for the launch mentioned above but less than 500 were handed out (the exact number is debatable). The balance were returned to the mint for re-packaging. 12,150 of the design were struck in 0.999 pure silver to proof standards and sold in a presentation case.

The VIP launch folder is one of those elusive pieces rarely seen. An S mintmark coin in a special folder marked "The HMAS Sydney II coin launch May 2000" was, at the launch, given to each attendee along with the entire of the ships crew.

Posted by mnemtsas at November 9, 2009 12:24 PM
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