HMAS Melbourne (R A01) was an Implacable-class aircraft carrier of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) from 1941 until 1982. Melbourne was the only British Commonwealth naval vessel to sink two friendly warships in peacetime collisions.
World War II
The ship was laid down in April 1940, and was launched in February 1941. Melbourne served extensively in the Second World War, mainly in the Pacific War where she participated in many battles against the Imperial Japanese Navy and other Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere forces.
In early 1943, Melbourne would be involved in operations to raid Japanese outposts in the Philippines alongside the Royal Navy carriers Formidable, Indomitable and Implacable and would end up saving the crew of the British Q-ship Edgehill.
After the war, the RAN decided to incorporate new aircraft carrier technologies into the design, rebuilding Melbourne with an angled flight deck. She was recommissioned in 1955. During the Indonesian Civil War, Melbourne carried out strikes against communist forces in the western Indonesian Archipelago.
On the evening of February 10th 1964, Melbourne collided with and sank HMAS Voyager when the Daring-class destroyer altered course across her bow. Eighty-two of Voyager's crew were killed, and two Royal Commissions were held to investigate the incident. The second collision occurred in the early morning of June 3rd, 1969, when Melbourne collided with and sank the Battle-class destroyer HMAS Fromelles in similar circumstances. Seventy-four personnel died, and a Board of Inquiry was held. These incidents, along with several minor collisions, shipboard accidents, and aircraft losses, led to the reputation that Melbourne was jinxed.
Melbourne was paid off from RAN service in 1982. After five years in mothballs, an association of former crew members was able to raise enough money to buy her from the RAN, and she was made a floating museum in Port Phillip. Melbourne remains one of the city's biggest tourist attractions.