Search for lost Australian WWII destroyer Vampire underway off Sri Lanka

File photo of destroyer HMAS Vampire. Photo: Commonwealth of Australia

The search for the Royal Australian Navy’s sunken World War II destroyer HMAS Vampire is underway off the coast of Sri Lanka, with the navies of both countries contributing hydrographic assets to the cause.

Nine sailors died when the destroyer HMAS Vampire sank after enduring an intensive Japanese air attack off the Sri Lankan coast. The Vampire had been attempting to protect the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Hermes on 9 April 1942.

Commander of Australia’s Fleet, Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead said the ship’s precise location had never been confirmed but that a new lead had recently emerged.

“This new information was shared during recent high-level Navy to Navy talks conducted in Colombo,” Rear Admiral Mead said.

“We have always known roughly where the Vampire went down but its exact location has proved elusive.

“There are no guarantees of success but we owe it to the families of those on board to follow up this new lead.”

Further research by both Australian and Sri Lankan hydrographers in recent months concluded that there is a strong chance HMAS Vampire’s final resting place has been identified.

The Australian hydrographic ship HMAS Leeuwin and mine hunter HMAS Diamantina are in the region to assist with a more thorough search.

“Whatever the outcome, we are most grateful to Sri Lanka for their cooperation and understanding,” Rear Admiral Mead said.

“The Vampire story illustrates the enduring ties we have with Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean region.”

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