Quo Fata Vocant (We
Go Where Destiny Calls)
February 2011 was the 47th anniversary of the sinking of HMAS VOYAGER, with the
loss of 82 crew. This was and still is the greatest peacetime
disaster the RAN has ever suffered.
the night of 10 February 1964 HMAS VOYAGER was in company with the
Carrier HMAS MELBOURNE preparing to carry out night flying exercises
approximately 20 miles off the coast from Jervis Bay NSW. Voyager's
task was to act as plane guard, in case an aircraft failed to make a landing
on or take off from the carrier and had to ditch into the
oggin. She had practised this manoeuvre with the Carrier many times in
the past including that day, so what happened and why it happened can never be fully
2052hrs VOYAGER was tasked by MELBOURNE to change to a new course in an
attempt to "find the wind" to allow flying operations to
commence. As part of the manoeuvre she had to take up a new position on
the port aft quarter of the Carrier. During the manoeuvre at
2055 something went terribly wrong and she came into collision with the
MELBOURNE. The collision cut the ship in two just aft of the
bridge. The bow section began to sink immediately due to the weight of
the forward 4.5"gun mounts and went down in minutes. The stern
section remained afloat and did not sink until after midnight. Of the 413
crew onboard that night 14 Officers and 67 sailors and a civilian dockyard
worker died. Most of those who died were in the forward section and
could not manage to escape through the ship's escape
acts of courage were displayed that night, in particular that of CPO Jonathon
"Buck" Rogers who, knowing that he could not escape because of his
size, assisted other sailors out of the escape hatches and then toward the
end, led the others with him who also could not escape in hymns as
the bow section went down - (Survivors, swimming away from the ship
reported sounds of singing from inside the bow section as it slipped
below that waves). CPO Rogers was awarded the George Cross, posthumously
for his action and courage. There were many other acts of selfless
courage displayed that night by members of the VOYAGER crew.
took two Royal Commissions to determine the cause of the accident and many years
for the survivors and victims of this tragedy to obtain just
compensation. The last claim was settled in July 2009, 45 years after the
accident. Unfortunately the claimant had by then died in 2003.
take time to remember the crew of HMAS
VOYAGER and their families. Their loss and devotion to duty and the
Royal Australian Navy should not go unmarked in history.
The Naval Ode.
They have no grave
but the cruel sea.
No flowers lay at
A rusting hulk
is their tombstone.
Afast on the ocean
They shall not grow
as we who are left
Age shall not weary
nor the years
At the going down of
and in the morning,
Lest we forget
More information..... HMAS Voyager, Daring Class Destroyer
12 February 1957 till 10th February 1964