A memorial church service was held at HMAS Creswell on Sunday 9 February 2014, for over 100 families and survivors of the tragic collision on 10 February 1964 between HMAS Voyager (II) and HMAS Melbourne (II) which resulted in the loss of 82 lives.
The inter-denominational service held at Geelong House provided guests with the opportunity to reflect on the loss still keenly felt by many.
Creswell’s chaplain, Chaplain Daniel Hynes, said he felt very honoured to be a part of such a special event.
“This year is the 50th anniversary and it was important to mark this with a service for as many people as we could onboard Creswell as a mark of respect not only for the 82 who perished but for all the survivors from both ships.
“As a Navy Chaplain, my role is to provide spiritual advice, guidance and support to service members and their families. We are privileged to be here today.”
The service included readings, psalms and prayers by survivors, hymns, the playing of the National Anthem and the Last Post followed by one minute’s silence.
Creswell was a fitting venue for the service given her role on that fateful night 50 years ago.
Commander Kerry Stephen (Ret’d) was the Commanding Officer of one of Creswell’s two Search and Rescue (SAR) boats immediately dispatched from the base when Voyager (II) and Melbourne (II) accidentally collided.
“Once we heard the alarm and hit the emergency siren, we launched our SAR boat, the Air Nymph, and departed Creswell’s Marine Section within two minutes.
“We rescued 34 survivors throughout that terrible night, returning them to HMAS Creswell.
“It was of course difficult to know who the rescued were due to the oil and darkness, however a few have recognised me over the years and thanked me. They are here this weekend so it is good to reunite.”
Today’s service was the first of three major Navy events to be held in Jervis Bay this week for the Voyager (II) commemorations.
On Monday 10 February 2014, HMAS Choules will embark over 200 guests for a wreath laying service over the resting place of Voyager (II), 20 nautical miles off Point Perpendicular.
On the evening of 10 February 2014, Creswell will conduct a traditional a ‘Beat to Quarters’ and Ceremonial Sunset where the names of the deceased will be read out loud with 82 bell tolls.
The HMAS Voyager Survivors Association is hosting a number of reunion events in Huskisson, Jervis Bay, this weekend. More information can be found at http://hmasvoyager.com.