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Sister ships: HOBART (ex-APOLLO), PERTH (ex-AMPHION); one further vessel cancelled.
Pennant number: I.48 (flag superior changed to "D" in 1940)
Notes: A modification of the preceding LEANDER class, the PERTH class alternated two groups of boiler and engine rooms, and had two funnels as a result. Otherwise, they were very similar to the LEANDER class. During the design process, it could not positively be determined if enough accommodation space was available for the required crew; despite this uncertainty, the lead ship (AMPHION) was built. Upon completion, it was indeed the case that there was insufficient space to adequately house the crew, and the class earned a reputation as being very cramped ships. However, the class were regarded as good sea boats, and very responsive to the helm. There was discussion of the class carrying two triple 6" turrets in the "B" and "X" positions, bringing the total number of 6" guns to ten. This arrangement was rejected for numerous reasons, including the overall increase in weight and subsequent decrease in speed, as well as problems with gunnery control.
At the beginning of World War II, SYDNEY was in service with the Australian fleet, but in early 1940, she was transferred to the Mediterranean and served with British forces there. On 19 July 1940, in the company of the RN destroyers HYPERION and ILEX, SYDNEY sank the Italian light cruiser BARTOLOMEO COLLEONI off the coast of Crete. Late in 1940, SYDNEY was transferred back to "home waters" and service with the Australian Fleet. On 19 November 1941, she engaged the German auxiliary cruiser KORMORAN off the coast of Western Australia. While sinking the KORMORAN with just a few well-placed hits, SYDNEY took at least one torpedo hit which put both forward turrets out of action, as well between 50 and 150 5.9" shell hits. Survivors from the KORMORAN reported that SYDNEY was last seen steaming or drifting over the horizon, burning furiously. SYDNEY, along with her entire crew, disappeared without trace.
(Details of SYDNEY's sinking are from "KORMORAN vs SYDNEY", by Kim Kirsner, WARSHIP 1992, Conway Maritime Press, London, England, 1992, p. 160.)