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Ballistics Analysis Regarding Unknown Sailor

Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence Media Mail List

MINASSIST 056/2006
Sunday, 17 December 2006

Findings Of Initial Ballistics Analysis Relating To Unknown Sailor

Ballistic analysis of a small piece of metal discovered in the skull of remains recovered from Christmas Island has revealed that the fragment is consistent with a piece of shrapnel, not a bullet as earlier thought.

The remains were recovered from Christmas Island in October and are believed to be those of a sailor from the ill-fated HMAS SYDNEY II, which sank with all hands on 19 November 1941.

Earlier advice, based on visual and x-ray inspections by a forensic expert, while the object was still embedded in the skull, suggested the size and shape of the piece of metal, resembled that of a small calibre round, which had been disfigured by impact, however, this has now been ruled out by forensic, ballistic analysis.

“The official findings of the analysis, conducted by a forensics ballistics analyst and recently received by the Royal Australian Navy, indicate that the object is a ferrous based fragment consistent with a shell fragment from a larger shell or projectile,” Mr Billson said.

“According to the forensic ballistics analyst, the object is not the type of metal used in small calibre rounds, nor does it carry any of the other traits or markings of a fired bullet or small arms ammunition.”

The fragment, which has been removed from the skull, is being subjected to further analysis by the Australian War Memorial and a comparison is being conducted against shrapnel fragments previously recovered from an HMAS SYDNEY carley float which is on display at the AWM.

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A report on the outcomes of this analysis is expected shortly.

Other forensic testing of the Christmas Island remains and objects found with them are continuing. This includes dental, pathological and anthropological analyses and the further ballistics work, with the full findings not expected until mid February, 2007.

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