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Previous Ministers' releases and speeches - Senator The Hon. Michael Ronaldson

Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
Special Minister of State

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Monday, 10 February 2014


The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, today encouraged all Australians to remember one of the nation’s greatest Naval tragedies, the sinking of HMAS Voyager II in 1964.

“On the 50th anniversary of this tragic event it is important that we as a nation remember the Australians who lost their lives that day.”

“Of the 314 men aboard HMAS Voyager II when it collided with HMAS Melbourne II on waters off Jervis Bay, 82 lost their lives, including 14 officers, 67 sailors and one civilian dock worker,” Senator Ronaldson said.

On the evening of 10 February 1964 HMAS Voyager II was undertaking the role of guard escort, as HMAS Melbourne II was conducting night flying exercises.

Both ships had to rely on their navigational and operational lights, as it was a moonless night which resulted in decreased visibility. 

“Just prior to 9pm the two ships collided and the Voyager II was sliced in half. The forward section sank nearly immediately, however, the after section took some hours before falling beneath the waterline.

“The quick thinking and brave actions by those on Melbourne II  and the RAN search and rescue boats HMAS Air Nymph and HMAS Air Sprite saw many lives saved, and prevented the tragedy from becoming far worse, as they plucked survivors from the cold night time waters,” Senator Ronaldson said.

Voyager II was one of three ‘Daring class’ destroyers, specifically tailored to the Australian conditions. The Darings were built as a multi-purpose ‘Gun Ships’ with increased manoeuvrability and three separate weapon control systems.

“Each day our brave men and women put their lives on the line, whether in the skies, on the land or at sea. It is truly heart breaking when an incident like this occurs, and as we reach half a century since the sinking of the Voyager II, we realise and are grateful for the selfless contribution these men and women have made,” Senator Ronaldson said.

Media inquiries:      Minister Ronaldson: Brad Rowswell 6277 7820 or 0417 917 796

                                Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203


Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) and Veterans Line can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046

PDF version (106 KB)