HMAS Melbourne, Killer Ship
HMAS Melbourne was called a jinx ship, however her two most serious disasters were both caused by human error and incompetence, in this case on the bridge of HMAS Voyager in 1964.
HMAS Voyager, D04
Unfortunately on the 10th. February 1964 at 2056hrs., HMAS Melbourne, exercising night flying off Jervis Bay in darkness, collided with and sank the destroyer Voyager. Voyager was cut in half with the forward section sinking almost immediately. The aft section remained afloat for several hours allowing the survivors in that section to abandon ship, before the last of Voyager sank into the dark sea. The death toll was 82 Australian Navy sailors lost.
Aft Section of HMAS Voyager
Following two Royal Commissions into the disaster, Naval moral in the RAN sank below the waterline as two Prime Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament and Navy & Defense Department officials misled the Royal Commissions and the Australian Public.
Naval officers from all ranks drew their ceremonial swords and smote each other in the Commissions to protect rank and position at any cost, while in the fleet, shame replaced respect. Naval Officers being "Officers and Gentlemen" had their evidence accepted without having to take the oath, while lesser ranks were sworn in before giving evidence, however many officers blatantly lied to the commissions to protect themselves, their rank, position, promotions and "the system". One later became Governor of New South Wales!
Learned Councils withheld evidence and lied to the Commissions while ironically the death of 82 Australian Navy sailors from all ranks was of little concern nor consequence. For many years the physical and physiological condition of the survivors was totally ignored by the Navy, Defense Department, Department of Veterans Affairs and the Australian Parliament. Some survivors are still fighting for what they believe is their justice, 45 years after this tragic collision.
|In daylight, Voyager almost in the position of ResDes.||HMAS Melbourne limping towards Sydney Harbour.|
|Taking tugs while entering Sydney Harbour.||Severely damaged bow of Melbourne|