Refueling at sea can be a precarious and arduous task and requires
expert seamanship from both skippers for such a manouevre.
During working up exercises in the English Channel the Melbourne was
damaged by a freak wave. However, the ships programme was unaffected by
the damage. Rubbish (Gash Chute) was crushed, the bulk head and doors of
a motorboat workshop buckled. The hulls of two motorboats were damaged.
And more than 240 feet of an electrical circuit was spoiled. Members of the
crew suffered no injuries.
Perhaps one could look back on the career of the Melbourne, was
this prelude to events that occurred later on. Two collisions at sea
caused heavy loss of life. On 10 February 1964 HMAS MELBOURNE collided
with H.M.A.S.Voyager, 82 sailors were lost. And yet again on June 3rd 1969
74 sailors were lost in a similar collision with the USS Frank E Evens.
The Melbourne was not responsible for either collision.
One doesn.t have to be in a war or operational waters for this type of
loss. It is the hazards that servicemen endure constantly during their
time in the service.
Photo and annotation courtesy of Jim Reardon