Coral Sea

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The Coral Sea is an area of the Pacific Ocean bounded in the west by the coast of Queensland, Australia; in the north by Papua New Guinea then across to (and include) Vanuatu; in the east by a line drawn more or less south from there to meet Latitude 30°S - south of which is the Tasman Sea.

The Coral Sea contains the Great Barrier Reef off the Queensland coast and other outstanding areas of maritime wonder in and around Vanuatu. While usually of an equable climate, further tempered by the south-east Trades, it is an area where tropical cyclones form, which devastate areas of north Queensland with some frequency. The area was first traversed by Torres in 1606 and James Cook explored its western edge in 1770. During May 1789, William Bligh with the 18 loyal members of his crew of the “Bounty” crossed the sea in an open boat on his way to Timor.

It gives its name to the Battle of the Coral Sea (4 May to 8 May 1942) where United States carriers, assisted by Royal Australian Navy warships, had a number of engagements with a large Japanese force en route to Port Moresby. Each force was assisted by land based aircraft from Australia or New Guinea. It gave Japan its first defeat in the Second World War, saved Port Moresby for the Allies and enabled the first step towards reversing the Japanese thrust down through New Guinea.


”The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea” 1997 p. 205