Aircraft carrier halves destroyer (1969)

Aircraft carrier halves destroyer (1969)

On June 3, 1969, the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne halved the American destroyer USS Frank E. Evans. It was a real naval catastrophe because on that occasion as many as 74 crew members of the mentioned destroyer were killed. The accident occurred during a maritime exercise by SEATO member states (the South East Asia Treaty Organization).

The Australian ship HMAS Melbourne was a light aircraft carrier of the Majestic class, about 214 meters long and with a maximum displacement of up to approximately 20,000 tons. The American destroyer USS Frank E. Evans was about 115 meters long and displaced a maximum of about 3,200 tons. The accident happened in the South China Sea, about 330 kilometers southeast of the coast of Vietnam, in the early hours before sunrise. Due to the lack of daylight, these were actually night conditions, without direct mutual visibility of the ships.

The destroyer came under the bow of the aircraft carrier when the position changed, so it was literally halved in two during the collision. The bow of the destroyer soon sank, taking with it a considerable number of crew members imprisoned inland. The stern of the destroyer remained floating and was later towed to port. 74 people were killed from the destroyer, out of a total of 273, while no one was killed on the aircraft carrier (the ship suffered only damage to the bow, which was later repaired).

It is an unusual fact that about five years earlier the HMAS carrier Melbourne off the Australian coast was halved by another destroyer, the HMAS Voyager. 82 people were killed in the previous accident.

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