HMAS Voyager was a Daring-class destroyer that was lost in a collision with HMAS Melbourne in 1964.
The Royal Australian Navy initially ordered four Daring Class destroyers, which were to be named after the ships of the "Scrap Iron Flotilla" of World War II.
Voyager was laid down by the Cockatoo Docks and Engineering Company at Sydney, New South Wales on 10 October 1949.She was launched on 1 May 1952 by Dame Pattie Menzies, wife of the then prime minister, and was commissioned on 12 February 1957.She was the first ship of the RAN commissioned as 'Her' Majesty's Australian Ship.
Members of the Nepean Blue Mountains Sub-Section
who served on Voyager
Colin (Col or Irish) O'Flynn
She a displacement of 2,800 tons standard, and 3,600 tons at full load.She was 390 ft (120 m) long, had a beam of 43 ft (13 m), and a draught of 12 ft 9 in (3.89 m). her best speed was 33 knots (61 km/h; 38 mph). She had range of 3,700 nautical miles or 6,900 km at 20 knots.
She had a complement of 20 officers and 300 sailors.The ship was modified during construction with most changes made to improve habitability, including the installation of air-conditioning.
Her motto was "Quo Fata Vocant" or “Where Fate Calls”.
Voyager was armed with six 4.5-inch (114 mm) Mark V guns in three double turrets, an "A" and "B" turret before the bridge, and an "X" turret on the aft superstructure, plus one 5-tube 21-inch (533 mm) Petand torpedo launcher located between the forward and aft superstructure, and one Limbo anti-submarine mortar that was located near the stern.
HMAS Voyager at sea.
Click on the image
for a better view.
Her anti-aircraft defenses were unique in a couple of ways.Firstly, at commissioning, she had two twin STAAG 40 mm Bofors guns mounted on either side of the forward superstructure, plus an aft twin Bofors gun behind the rear funnel.These STAAG Bofors guns were unique in that they had their own built-in radar on the front of the mounting, which unfortunately did not work very well, and which were constantly under repair; so after about three years these were replaced with Twin Bofors guns.
Voyager's armament was also different from the other two Australian Daring Class ships, Vampire and Vendetta, as they were equipped with two single Bofors on the forward superstructure, and two twin Bofors on the aft superstructure.
s Voyager was the first ship of her class in Australian service, she underwent an extensive program of sea trials after commissioning, which lasted until September.During the late stages of the trials, Voyager was damaged in a heavy storm, and on her return to Sydney, she was docked for repairs and maintenance until early January 1958.
HMAS Voyager at sea during fleet exercises.
Click on the image for a better
After re-entering service, HMAS Voyager and HMAS Warramunga were assigned to the Far East Strategic Reserve (FESR)on 13 January 1958.Voyager returned on 1 September 1958 and entered a refit and leave period two days later, which lasted until 27 January 1959.
Following the refit, the destroyer was involved in a "Shop Window" exercise on 20 February - a day-long fleet exercise used to demonstrate RAN capabilities to politicians and media.
On 3 March, she was assigned again to the FESR, and sailed for Singapore via South and Western Australia.While still off the northern coast of Western Australia, Voyager was involved in a South East Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO) joint naval exercise.
On 30 April, burst tubes in the "B" boiler damaged the ship, forcing her to limp to Hong Kong for six weeks of repairs.Over 300 sections of tubing had to be replaced in both boilers, with the cause of the damage confirmed to be oil contamination of the boilers' feed water.
After repairs were completed on 15 June, Voyager sailed to Australia and underwent refit in Victoria.
In late 1959, Voyager was sent to the Far East for a two-and-a-half-month deployment. On 20 October, Voyager and her two sister ships operated together for the first time and were officially designated the 9th Destroyer Squadron.
A few days later, the Squadron was assigned to escort the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne during a cruise to New Zealand, with the ships returning to Sydney on 4 December; Voyager immediately entering a maintenance and leave period.
Voyager's operations in 1960 began with a promotional visit to Port Kembla, New South Wales in late January, before participating in exercises with ships of the RAN and Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN).
HMAS Voyager leaving Sydney Harbour .
Click on the image for a
On 28 March, Voyager and the carrier Melbourne departed for the FESR.En route, water tubes in "B" boiler burst again, although the damage was less severe than in the previous year.The destroyer was made to collect replacements in Singapore before sailing to Hong Kong to have them installed before the start of SEATO exercise Sea Lion in May.
Voyager returned to Sydney via the west and south coasts of Australia in late June, and immediately entered a refit, which included restructuring of her bridge area.The refit was concluded on 14 November, and after working-up exercises and a short period of Christmas leave for the ships' company, departed on 28 December with HMAS Quickmatch for another FESR deployment.
Upon arriving in Singapore on 11 January 1961, Voyager and Quickmatch were assigned as escorts for the British aircraft carrier HMS Hermes.The three ships were meant to sail to Subic Bay for joint exercises with the United States Navy, but these were cancelled while en route. Voyager and Quickmatch were ordered to Bangkok for a goodwill visit at the end of January, with the two ships performing a Shop Window exercise for Royal Thai Navy officers.
After rejoining the FESR, Voyager was deployed to the Indian Ocean for SEATO Exercise Jet 61, which involved 25 ships from several Commonwealth navies.
After participating in several other exercises, Voyager returned to Australia, escorting the carrier Melbourne as far as Townsville in Queensland before sailing to Jervis Bay and rendezvousing with nine RAN ships, two RN submarines, and three small military watercraft for a ceremonial entry to Sydney Harbour on 15 June.
On 19 June, the ship commenced a refit which lasted until 1 November.On completion, Voyager was involved in a training exercise with other RAN, RN, and RNZN ships, and visited New Zealand before returning to Sydney on 8 December for Christmas leave.
Voyager left dock on 11 January 1962, before joining the carrier Melbourne and the frigate Queenborough for a deployment to the FESR.During this deployment, Voyager participated in several SEATO exercises, became the first RAN ship to visit Tacloban City in the Philippines, made multiple port visits to Japan, and cast a wreath in the Lingayen Gulf to remember those killed by kamikaze attacks aboard the World War II heavy cruiser HMAS Australia.
Voyager arrived back in Sydney on 21 June. The destroyer underwent refits until early October, participated in SEATO Exercise Seascape later that month, visited Fremantle for the 1962 Commonwealth Games in November, and returned to Sydney for maintenance in December.
Voyager started 1963 with work-up exercises in Jervis Bay, before departing on her sixth visit to the FESR on 31 January, in the company of sister ship Vampire.
Voyager underway with sister ship HMAS Vendetta and the aircraft carrier HMASMelbourne in 1959.
Click on the image for a better view.
The Australian ships participated in SEATO Exercise Sea Serpent in late April and early May and they both returned to Sydney on 3 August.
Voyager then sailed to Williamstown Naval Dockyard in Victoria for a major refit, which lasted from 12 August to 31 December.
The destroyer returned to Sydney on 25 January 1964, then proceeded to Jervis Bay on 7 February.
Collision and Loss
On 10 February 1964, Voyager was performing trials off Jervis Bay, under the command of Captain Duncan Stevens, following the Williamstown refit. The aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne, under the command of Captain John Robertson, was also undergoing post-refit trials off Jervis Bay.
The trials involved interactions between both ships, and when Melbourne performed night flying exercises that evening, Voyager acted as the carrier's plane guard escort. This required Voyager to maintain a position 20° off Melbourne's port quarter at a distance from the carrier of 1,500 to 2,000 yards (1,400 to 1,800 m).
During the early part of the evening, Voyager had no difficulties maintaining her position during the maneuvers that both ships performed.
However, following a series of turns intended to reverse the courses of both ships beginning at 8:40 pm, Voyager ended up to starboard of Melbourne.
At 8:52 pm, Voyager was ordered to resume the plane guard station.
Voyager at speed during fleet exercises.
Click on the image for a better view.
The procedure to accomplish this required Voyager to turn away from Melbourne in a large circle, cross the carrier's stern, then take position off Melbourne's port side.Instead, Voyager first turned to starboard, away from Melbourne, then turned to port without warning.
It was initially assumed by Melbourne's bridge crew that Voyager was conducting a series of tight turns to lose speed before swinging behind Melbourne, but Voyager did not alter course again.
At 8:55 pm, with Voyager still turning to port, Melbourne's navigator ordered the carrier's engines to half astern speed, with Robertson ordering an increase to full astern a few seconds later.
At the same time, Stevens, returning to Voyager's bridge from the nearby chart table, gave the order "Full ahead both engines. Hard a-starboard.", before instructing the destroyer's Quartermaster to announce that a collision was imminent.
Both ships' measures were too late to avoid a collision; Melbourne hit Voyager at 8:56 pm.
Melbourne struck just aft of Voyager's bridge structure, rolling the destroyer to starboard before cutting her in half.
Voyager's forward boiler exploded, briefly setting fire to the bow of the carrier before it was extinguished by seawater.
The destroyer's forward section sank quickly, due to the weight of the two 4.5-inch gun turrets.The aft section did not begin sinking until half an hour after the collision and did not completely submerge until just after midnight.
Messages were sent to the Fleet Headquarters in Sydney immediately after the collision, although staff in Sydney initially underestimated the extent of the damage to Voyager.
Melbourne launched her boats almost immediately after the collision to recover survivors, and the carrier's wardroom and C Hangar were prepared for casualties.
At 9:58 pm, Melbourne was informed that search-and-rescue boats from HMAS Creswell, helicopters from HMAS Albatross (Naval Air Station Nowra), and five Ton class minesweepers had been dispatched to assist in the search.
Damage to HMAS Melbourne.
on the image for a better view.
Of the 314 personnel aboard Voyager at the time of the collision, 14 officers and 67 sailors were killed, including Stevens and all but two of the bridge crew.A civilian dockyard worker also lost his life.
The wreck of the destroyer lies in 600 fathoms (1,100 m) of water, 20 nautical miles (37 km) from Point Perpendicular on a bearing of 120°.
The List of Casualties
is the official list of the bodies of those recovered and those missing:
D.H., CAPT, RAN
COOK, H.D., LEUT, RAN
PARKER, R.W., AB.
BERMINGHAM, P.W., Ordinary SMN (U.C.)
BROOKS, E.A., LEUT, RN
BROKATE, M.A., Ordinary SMN (Writer)
BROWN, N.J., AB
BUTTS, W.J., Cook
CARR, P.R., AB
CARRINGTON, B.L, LCDR, RAN
CASTLE, B.E., Ordinary SMN (C.O.)
CLARKE, P.L., Electrical Mechanic
CLAYTON, J.D., Ordinary SMN (C.O.)
COBBAN, G.F., Stores Assistant (V)
CONDON, W.J., Electrical Mechanic
CULLEN, K.V., Communications Yeoman
CURGENVEN, J.M., Engineering Mechanic
DAVIES, J.S., ASLT, RAN
ASHWELL, N.J., Leading Mechanical Engineer
BEAVIS, E.S., SBLT, RAN
DAVIS, K.J., Steward
DEANS, J.C.G., Electrical Mechanic
DENHAM, R.A., Radio Operator
DIEPENBROEK, N.G., Engineering Mechanic
DOWLING, J.L., LEUT, RAN
EARL, J.N., Assistant Steward
FENWICK, J. McG., Leading Electrical Mechanic
FITZALLEN, G.D., Ordinary SMN (C.O.)
FLEMING, L.B., Ordinary SMN (M.E.)
GARRETT, L.J., Engineering Mechanic
GLENNIE, N.C., AB
GUY, J.B., AB Electrician
HALE, S., AB
HARCLA, E.K., PO
HARRIS, P.L., Tactical Operator
HENDY, R.W. Ordinary SMN (Tactical Operator)
KEDDIE, K.S., Engineering Mechanic
KELLY, G.J., Ordinary SMN (M.E.)
KINGSTON, N.E., Leading Steward
LAMBERT, U.J., AB
LEESON, L.J., Engine-room Artificer
LEGG, C.G., Leading Mechanical Engineer
LEHMAN, L.C., Ordinary SMN (Cook)
LINDSEY, B.C., Midshipman, RAN
MACARTNEY, D.R., PO Engineering Mechanic
MCDONALD, P.E., Engineering Mechanic
MACFARLANE, D.E., Leading Radio Operator
MACGREGOR, I.A.G., LCDR, RAN
McLEAN, G.E., AB
MARIEN, K.F., MIDN, RAN
MAUNDER, R.W., MIDN, RAN
MILBOURNE, P.D., Assistant Cook (O)
MORGAN, F.J., MIDN, RAN
MULLER, K.L., Ordinary SMN (T.O.)
NUSS, G.C., Ordnance Artificer
O'LEARY, E.J., Ordinary SMN (M.E.)
OWEN, E.R., Ordinary SMN (Radio Operator)
TAPP, E.W., CMDR, RAN
PARKER, Mr. H.S., Technical Assistant,
PERRETT, G.E., Engineering Mechanic
PRICE, D.H.M., LEUT, RN
REID, D.W., Ordnance Artificer
ROGERS, J., CPO
SCHMIDT, B.M., Leading Airman
SCOTT, B.A., Ordinary SMN (Writer)
SHARKEY, F., LS
SMYE, W.J., Leading Cook
SOLOMON, A.J., AB
SPARROWHAWK, J.E., LS
STOCKER, P.G., AB
SYARANAMUAL, A.V.W., Ordinary SMN (E.M.)
TAIT, K.C., Leading Cook
TAYLOR, F.T., AB
TAYLOR, R.A., Engineering Mechanic
TEAPE, A.W., Leading Tactical Operator
THOMPSON, A.W., Assistant Steward
TRAUTMAN, J.B., Ordinary SMN (Radio Operator)
VINCENT, L.D., CPO Cook
WALKER, G.S., Radio Electrical Mechanic
WEST, R.A., Ordinary SMN (C.O.)
WILLIAMS, J., AB
WOODWARD, R.E.W., Ordinary SMN (M.E.)
First Royal Commission
Although a naval Board of Inquiry was suggested by senior RAN officers as the best way to investigate the incident, a series of incidents and accidents during the 1950’s and early 1960’s had left the general public with a mistrust of navy-run investigations, and Prime Minister Robert Menzies made it clear that an inquiry supervised by a federal judge would be the only acceptable route: anything else would be seen as a cover up.
Regulations for such an externally supervised inquiry were supposed to have been drafted following an explosion aboard HMAS Tarakan in 1950, but they were never enacted, so Menzies' only option was to call for a Royal Commission.
Commemorating the 30th anniversary of the tragedy.
The commission, to be headed by Sir John Spicer, was announced by Menzies on 13 February 1964.This commission was directed primarily to investigate the immediate causes of the collision, and the circumstances which led up to it.
Secondary considerations included the suitability of both ships for the exercise, and the rescue and treatment of survivors.These instructions were prepared without the consultation of the RAN.
The high number of competing arguments slowed the investigation, and it was not until 25 June that the inquiry was ended and the report begun.The Spicer Report was released publicly on 26 August 1964.
The report was considered to be of poor quality. It had a disjointed narrative and repeatedly failed to cite the relevant evidence. In it, Spicer concluded that the collision was primarily the fault of Voyager's bridge crew, in that they neglected to maintain an effective lookout and lost awareness of the carrier's location, although he did not blame individual officers.
When reporting on the contribution of Melbourne and those aboard her to the collision, Spicer specifically indicated failures of Robertson and two other bridge officers, as they did not alert Voyager to the danger she was in, and appeared to not take measures to prevent Melbourne from colliding.
Robertson was marked for transfer to HMAS Watson, a training base in Sydney, and the admirals of the RAN decided to prevent Robertson from serving on Melbourne or any other seagoing vessel in the future.Robertson submitted his resignation from the Navy on 10 September 1964, two days after receiving official notice of his new posting, which he saw as a demotion. The media considered that Robertson had been made a scapegoat for the incident.
1964, two days after receiving official notice of his new posting, which he saw as a demotion. The media considered that Robertson had been made a scapegoat for the incident.
Second Royal Commission
Over the next few years there was increasing pressure from the public, the media, and politicians of the government and opposition over the handling of the first Royal Commission, as well as claims made by Lieutenant Commander Peter Cabban, the former executive officer of Voyager, that Captain Stevens frequently drank to excess and was unfit for command.
On 18 May 1967, Prime Minister Harold Holt announced a second Royal Commission into the Melbourne-Voyager collision, with Sir Stanley Burbury, The Hon. Mr Justice Kenneth Asprey, and The Hon. Mr Justice George Lucas as presiding commissioners investigating the claims made by Cabban.It was the only time in Australian history that two Royal Commissions have been held on the same incident, although it was emphasized that the second enquiry was to focus on Cabban's allegations, not the accident itself. The commission opened on 13 June 1967, and hearings commenced on 18 July.
The commission looked at the proposition that Stevens was unfit for command on the evening of the incident due to illness (a duodenal ulcer), drunkenness or a combination of the two, and that the description of the collision in Spicer's report and the conclusions drawn from it were inconsistent with events.
Stevens' ulcer had previously hospitalized him, and he had concealed its recurrence from the RAN.There was evidence that Stevens had been served a triple brandy earlier in the night, and a post-mortem conducted on Stevens' body showed a blood alcohol level of 0.025%, though the significance of this figure was challenged by expert witnesses.
The hearings lasted 85 days, and the Burbury Report was released publicly on 25 February 1968.
It found that Stevens was medically unfit for command, although not impaired by alcohol at the time of the collision.Consequently, some of the findings of the first commission— those based on the assumption that Voyager was under appropriate command—required re-evaluation.
Robertson and the other officers of Melbourne were absolved of blame for the incident.
On condition of anonymity, a doctor informed the first Royal Commission that he had been confidentially prescribing amphetamine to Captain Stevens prior to the collision. This was a legal drug at the time and was carried in RAN ships' medical lockers.
Navy Minister Don Chipp has suggested this as an explanation for the contradictory impressions created in the minds of witnesses who reported on Captain Stevens' apparent state of health and demeanour prior to the collision.This evidence was only made public after both enquiries were completed.
While the inattentiveness of the lookouts and bridge crew was a contributing factor to the collision, the exact cause has been difficult to determine because all but one sailor from the bridge of Voyager were killed.In the immediate aftermath of the collision, five possible causes were put forward:
1. communications between the two vessels did not reflect the ships' intentions,
2. those aboard Voyager had an incorrect idea of where they were in relation to Melbourne,
3. the sea room required for the destroyer to manoeuvre was miscalculated,
4. the level of training aboard one or both ships was deficient, or
5. an equipment failure occurred aboard one or both ships.
The equipment failure, inadequate training, and miscalculated sea room theories were disproven by the two Royal Commissions, leaving the suggestion that either a communication error aboard one of the ships caused Voyager to manoeuvre in an undesired manner, or the officers aboard Voyager were incorrectly aware of their vessel's position in relation to the much larger aircraft carrier.
Naval historian and ex-RAN officer Tom Frame, who studied the collision for his doctoral thesis, believes that the main cause of the collision was an error in communications: specifically, that the instruction to turn to 020° and then assume the plane guard station was garbled on receipt by Voyager.The signal was "Foxtrot Corpen 020 22", meaning that Melbourne was about to commence flying operations on a heading of 020°, at a speed of 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph), and that Voyager was to assume the plane guard station. (Frame, T., Where Fate Calls: the HMAS Voyager tragedy. Hodder & Stoughton. Rydalmere, NSW, 1992. pp. 313–21)
While the first Royal Commission considered the likelihood that the code phrase "foxtrot corpen" was reversed to become "corpen foxtrot" (an order to turn onto the given course), Frame states that it was more likely that the numbers given for the course were misheard or confused with other numbers in the signal as a turn to the south-west (various possibilities offered by Frame would have indicated a turn to the south-west instead of the north-east, with an incorrect heading between 200° and 220°, or of 270°), or that this happened in conjunction with the code phrase error
Former RAN Commodore David Ferry disagrees with Frame's conclusions, claiming that the coincidence of two errors in the same signal was unlikely, and that either error would be sufficient cause for Stevens or the other officers to query the signal.(Ferry, D. (2004). "What caused the Voyager collision? Where did the investigation fail?".
Journal of the Australian Naval Institute (111): p. 8)
The idea that those aboard Voyager incorrectly assessed their position in relation to the carrier was most prominently supported by Robertson during the first commission: he suggested that Stevens and the others aboard the destroyer may have believed that they were on Melbourne's port bow.
The navigational lights aboard Melbourne may have been dimmed (there is disagreement on this point), and experimental red floodlights on the flight deck may have been seen and misinterpreted as a port-side navigation light.
The second Royal Commission felt that this, combined with the ill health of Stevens, was the more likely cause of the collision.
Frame states that for this theory to be plausible, the entire bridge crew had to lose the tactical picture at the same time, which he considered to be too improbable.Ferry is also of the opinion that, unless Melbourne was both in Voyager's radar blind spot and obscured by exhaust from the destroyer, it was unlikely that the bridge crew would think they were not to starboard of the carrier.
Ferry favours the opinion that Voyager misjudged the manoeuvring room she had.He claims that the destroyer knew where she was in relation to Melbourne and that the turn to starboard then reversal to port was intended to be a "fishtail" manoeuvre.Voyager was to swing out wide of the carrier, then turn back towards her, cross the stern and assume her position without having to do a loop. However, insufficient time was allowed for Voyager to get clear of Melbourne before turning back to port, so instead of passing behind Melbourne, the destroyer passed in front.
Ferry's theory eliminates the need for a double error in the communications signals, and the need for all on the destroyer's bridge to have such a vastly incorrect assumption of where Voyager was in relation to the carrier.
In 2015 Elizabeth McCarthy asserted in her book John Jess Seeker of Justice, the Role of the Parliament in the HMAS Voyager Tragedy (Sid Harta Publishers, 2015) that the crew of HMAS Voyager and HMAS Melbourne did their jobs correctly and did not make an error on the night of the collision.The crew of the Voyager were in fact watching Melbourne and did receive and pass on the signals correctly. This was proven by selected transcripts being included in the book from the publication prohibited pages of the Royal Commission in 1964.
McCarthy also supports the view put forward by the Burbury Report in 1968 that the final order received by Voyager, which Voyager acted on, was likely countermanded by Captain Stevens, which put Voyager in the path of Melbourne and collision stations, and that this was a result of his ill health at the time of the collision.
An analysis of his last actions and movements in her book does suggest he was unwell and possibly in pain from a reactivated duodenal ulcer.Her book also puts forward the view that Captain Stevens ill health was known by 75% of those conducting the Royal Commission in 1964.
The treatment of the naval personnel at this Commission was described by John Jess as "The greatest injustice carried out in Australian service history."
Changes to RAN procedures
Following the investigation, changes were made within the RAN to prevent a similar occurrence.Procedures were created for challenging another ship that was seen to be maneuvering dangerously, or which had transmitted an unclear maneuvering signal, and rules for escort vessels operating with Melbourne were compiled.
Among other instructions, these rules banned escorts from approaching within 2,000 yards (1,800 m) of the carrier unless specifically instructed to, and stated that any maneuver around Melbourne was to commence with a turn away from the carrier. The new rules were applied to all ships scheduled to sail in concert with the carrier, including those of foreign navies.
Families of those killed in the sinking of Voyager attempted to claim compensation for their losses, while survivors tried to make claims for post-traumatic stress and similar ailments.
A 1965 High Court ruling prevented armed-forces personnel from suing the government for compensation, although the wife of the dockyard worker killed in the collision was able to make a successful claim.
The ruling was overturned in 1982. Cases for compensation were lodged by Voyager survivors and their families, and during the 1990’s, sailors from Melbourne began to make similar legal claims.
Both groups were met with heavy legal opposition from the Australian government, with Commonwealth representatives contending that those making claims were opportunistically trying to blame a single incident for a range of life problems and had fabricated or embellished their symptoms or were otherwise making not credible claims.
As of May 2008, 35 cases were still ongoing, two from dependents of Voyager sailors killed in the collision, the remainder from Melbourne sailors.A further 50 cases had been closed in 2007 following mediation.The final group of 214 compensation cases related to the incident was closed in July 2009.Some cases had been open for more than ten years, costing the government millions of dollars a year in legal costs.
In 2008, the handling of some Voyager survivors' cases was investigated by the Law Institute of Victoria, after they made complaints about the discrepancies between what they were awarded and what was received: for example, one sailor only received $72,000 from a $412,000 settlement.All of the complaints were from cases handled by David Forster of Hollows Lawyers, who handled 89 of the 214 total cases; these resulted in a total settlement of $23 million.
Investigations found major accounting issues, including apparent double-charging for work done, and charging full fees after they were discounted or completely written off.
In 2010, receivers were called in; this was followed by the cancellation of Forster's law practicing certificate in December 2011, and proceedings against Forster in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal were due to commence on 10 February 2014, the 50th anniversary of the collision.
The following item is taken from the front page of the (Royal Australian) Navy News of Friday March 19, 1965, under the headline "Queen Honours Voyager Men."
Queen Honours Voyager Men
George Cross Medal .... (Late) Chief Petty Officer Rogers helped many
men to escape from the Voyager(II)'s rapidly sinking forward section.
In the darkness and confusion following the collision, he organised the
evacuation of the cafeteria where there were between 50-60 men. He
stayed behind to look after those who could not escape, and led them in
prayer and a hymn. He upheld the highest tradition of service at sea,
and his rating as Chief Petty Officer (Coxswain). Chief Petty Officer
Rogers was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for service with the
Royal Navy in 1944. He transferred to the RAN in 1950. Electrical
Chief Petty Officer Jonathan Rogers, who was awarded the George Cross
posthumously for his bravery during the Melbourne/Voyager collision.
Mechanic (Electronics) First Class William Joseph Condon, Albert Medal
for Gallantry in saving life at sea. In recognition and his outstanding
gallantry and devotion to duty in saving life at sea when HMAS Voyager
was sunk after collision, in remaining at his post to the end in the
sinking ship, holding the emergency lantern to show others the path to
the escape scuttle and losing his life thereby. Midshipmen Kerry Francis
Marien, Albert Medal for gallantry in saving life at sea. In recognition
of his gallantry in attempting to save life at sea when HMAS Voyager was
sunk after collision. In leaving the safety of a life raft to attempt a
rescue, he thereby lost his life. Petty Officer Douglas Moore, George
Medal. In recognition of his brave and distinguished conduct when HMAS
Voyager was sunk after collision, in assisting the survivors to evacuate
the sinking ship, and in rescuing an unconscious man in the water, and
for leadership and devotion to duty in organising the boarding of
life-rafts and taking charge of life-rafts containing survivors in great
adversity. (Petty Officer) Moore was awarded the British Empire Medal
for his part in a hazardous diving operation undertaken by the Navy for
the Snowy Mountains Authority at Lake Eucumbene in 1961). Leading Seaman
Raymond Ernest Rich, British Empire Medal. In recognition of his brave
and distinguished conduct when HMAS Voyager was sunk after collision, in
assisting with the maintenance of moral of survivors in the ship and the
orderly evacuation of the sinking ship, in rescuing a man who was
drowning, for leadership and devotion to duty in organising the boarding
of life-rafts containing the survivors, and maintaining the morale of
survivors in great adversity. Petty Officer Geoffrey Percival Worth,
British Empire Medal. In recognition of his brave and distinguished
conduct when HMAS
Voyager was sunk after collision, in assisting
survivors to evacuate the sinking ship, in leaving the safety of the
life-raft to rescue a drowning man, and for leadership and devotion to
duty in organising the boarding of life-rafts and taking charge of
life-rafts containing survivors and in maintaining the moral of
survivors in great adversity. Leading Electrical Mechanic Brian Victor
Longbotham, British Empire Medal. In recognition of his brave conduct
when HMAS Voyager was sunk after collision, in remaining in the water by
the sinking ship, assisting survivors and organising them into a party,
and for personal courage in leaving the safety of a lifeboat to rescue a
drowning man. Leading Sick Berth Attendant John Rennie Wilson, British
Empire Medal. In recognition of his brave and distinguished conduct when
HMAS Voyager was sunk after collision, in that although in great pain
from his injuries, he refused an injection of morphia and insisted on
helping other injured men, thereby upholding the highest traditions of
the nursing profession. Able Seaman Eric Noel Robson, British Empire
Medal. In recognition of his brave conduct when HMAS Voyager was sunk
after collision, in showing others the escape route in the sinking ship
and assisting them towards the escape hatch before escaping himhelf.
Petty Officer Engineering Mechanic Edgar James McDermott, Queen's
Commendation. For brave conduct and devotion to duty when HMAS Voyager
was sunk after collision, in remaining at his post in B boiler room in
near darkness, assessing the damage, closing down the hatches and air
locks, shutting down high pressure boilers at considerable risk to his
personal safety, in order to ensure that the boiler did not explode,
which would have caused disaster to those on the after section.
Engineering Mechanic Hugh Francis Gilvarry, Queen's Commendation. In
recognition of his brave conduct and devotion to duty when HMAS Voyager
sank after collision, in remaining at his post as diesel fuel pump
watch-keeper alone in the after engine room in order to ensure the
continued operation of the diesel generator, which was the only
remaining source of power, until ordered to abandon ship. Electrical
Artificer Second Class Anthony Page, Queen's Commendation. In
recognition of his brave conduct and devotion to duty when HMAS Voyager
was sunk after collision, in entering B engine room to start the diesel
generator so that power was restored to the after section of the ship,
without which the other measures being taken to preserve the ship and
safety of the crew would have been very difficult.
Midshipman Kerry Francis Marien, who was awarded the Albert Medal
posthumously for his bravery in rescuing his shipmates.
Each year the RAN and members of the HMAS Voyager Association pause to commemorate those lost in Voyager (II). These images commemorate the 30th anniversary of the tragedy.
The New South Wales town of Huskisson on the shores of Jervis Bay has an HMAS Voyager (II) memorial park, details of which can be found at
There is also a memorial at Voyager Park, bordered by Sirius Road and Orlando Crescent in the Sydney suburb of East Hills. To the north of Sirius Road lies Voyager Point which runs alongside the Georges River.
HMAS Cerberus has an HMAS Voyager (II) memorial, featuring a bronze statue of a sailor on a stone cairn.
The Devonport (Tasmania) Maritime Museum, formerly the Harbour Master's residence and pilot station, also features a memorial commemorating HMAS Voyager (II). It reads:
"The naval destroyer HMAS Voyager (II) was lost on the night of 10 February 1964 in a collision with the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne (II). Nine Tasmanians were serving on the Voyager (II), four of whom were among the eighty-two men who died that night: AB Neil Benjamin Brown,
Ordinary SMN John David Clayton,
Ordinary SMN Graham Dennis Fitzallen,
Leonard Charles Lehman (cook)"
The 7th August 1964 edition of Navy News carried the following article:
"The Airdmillan State School Parents and Citizens' Association has established a fund to be known as the H.D. Cook and Voyager (II) Memorial Fund. Some months ago a suggestion was made that a fund be established to perpetuate the memory of the late Lieut. Harry Cook, a past pupil of the school, who lost his life in the Voyager (II) disaster. Harry was the eldest son of Mr and Mrs Ron Cook, residents of Airdmillan for many years. At the July meeting of the Association it was decided to sponsor an annual award in the juvenile section of the North Queensland Eisteddfod to be known as the "Lieut. H.D. Cook and Voyager (II) Memorial Award. ...The Association also decided to place framed photos of Lieut. Cook and of Voyager(II) in the classroom of the Airdmillan State School."
The 7th August 1964 edition of Navy News carried the following article:
"The Perth Sub-Section of the Naval Association of Australia recently presented a ship's bell to HMAS Leeuwin (I) as a memorial to the four junior recruits who lost their lives in HMAS Voyager (II) on February 10 last year. The four were EM J.H. Curgenvan, EM N.G. Diepenbroek, Ord. SMN K.L. Muller, and Ord. RO J.B. Trautman."
HMAS Voyager (II) Trophy
Lost with HMAS Voyager (II) was the Otranto Shield for Torpedo, the tactical anti-submarine warfare trophy that she had won in 1963. On 10 February 1984 the RAN instituted the HMAS Voyager (II) Trophy for anti-submarine warfare proficiency, to be awarded annually to the "...escort which in the opinion of the Fleet Commander has achieved the best and most consistent anti-submarine sensor and weapon performance during the year."
The inaugural winner was the guided missile frigate HMAS Canberra (II) for the year ended 1983. The most prolific winners have been HMAS Darwin with five awards and HMAS Perth (II) with four.
HMAS Voyager (II) Battle Honour Board
HMAS Voyager Battle Honour Board.