Geelong author righting one of history’s wrongs

Matt Hewson

A local author has released a new book re-examining the HMAS Voyager disaster in 1964 and the resulting fallout in an attempt to correct the history books.

On February 10, 1964 Voyager and aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne collided off Jervis Bay while conducting post-refit sea trials, resulting in the sinking of Voyager and the death of 82 of its crew.

The incident resulted in two Royal Commissions, both of which contained controversial findings and laid the blame on various members of both ships’ crews.

Elizabeth McCarthy’s Abide With Me will be launched at the 60th reunion of the collision at Huskisson, New South Wales next weekend.

Mrs McCarthy is the daughter of John Jess, a federal MP, who became known as the ‘seeker for justice’ for his efforts to discover the truth behind the tragic event.

She said the book, which draws heavily on the National Archives of Australia and the Australian War Memorial records, has two purposes; to correct history and, in doing so, absolve the crews of both ships.

“The crews have been blamed, and I’m trying to sort that out and change history for the better,” Mrs McCarthy said.

“I think a lot of them have died in despair. Why did this happen? Why has history been so hard on us?

“I was able to go through the archives and maybe solve the collision and why it happened. I’m hoping that by giving them the information, they can see for themselves (they are not to blame).”