A Royal Australian Navy ship has been linked to the death of two whales in the United States after their carcasses were found stuck underneath its hull.
The HMAS Sydney had arrived at the Naval Base in San Diego on Saturday when two whale carcusses, believed to belong to a mother and her calf, surfaced from below the vessel.
The whales were discovered after the ship docked at the base on Saturday morning and have since been left tied up at the dock.
One of the fin whales is 20 metres long while the other is less than 8 metres, with experts saying this indicates they were a mother and calf feeding near the surface.
A fin whale is pictured tied to mooring at the Naval Base in San Diego after two carcasses appeared when the HMAS Sydney docked on Saturday morning
'The navy takes marine mammal safety seriously and is disheartened this incident occurred,' a Defence spokesperson said.
The HMAS Sydney, a 146-metre destroyer which has been participating in training exercises in the US since April, extends some seven metres underwater and travels at such a speed that it may not have noticed hitting the two mammals.
The Australian and US navies will assist a local investigation into the causes of the whales' deaths.
The larger whale will be taking out to sea and sunk while an autopsy will be carried out on the calf.
Fin whales are commonly found off the Californian coast, particularly San Diego, with the mammals moving south for warmer waters to feed.
The HMAS Sydney (pictured) is a 146-metre destroyer that has been participating in training exercises in the US since April