Typhoon Ruth - 14-15 October 1951

Typhoon Ruth hit the Japanese port of Sasebo, with winds up to 150 km/hour and waves estimated to be up to 13.5 metres. Warships and transport vessels, including HMAS Sydney, were stationed in the port at the time. Upon learning of the approaching storm, many ships had put out to sea to escape the now dangerous confines of the harbour.


HMAS Sydney with Sea Fury aircraft lined up on the flight deck, pitching and rolling in the heavy seas whipped up by Typhoon Ruth. (AWM P01838.007)

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Not only was HMAS Sydney in danger, there were many aircraft on board that were simply lashed to the ship because they could not fit in the hangar. The resulting damage from Typhoon Ruth was extensive.

Many of Sydney's small boats were damaged, fires broke out from damaged electrical equipment, fuel leaked from aircraft and general damage was caused on the decks by the violent waves around them. Sydney lost four of its aircraft overboard.

While some ships in the harbour were sunk, many Japanese in Sasebo were killed or lost their homes. The crew of Sydney, though having a long and hard struggle for almost two days, had been relatively lucky. Careful precautions and well-trained personnel had kept serious risks to the ship and crew to a minimum.

(Extract from Out in the Cold, The Australian War Memorial's online exhibition on Korea)