- Letter Writer
- Ship histories and stories
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Voyager I
- March 1999 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
I refer to the article “Abandoned at Sea” in The Review, September 1998. [Ed: Retitled SS Queen Mary and the Loss of HMS Curacoa 1942]
There is another incident involving the Queen Mary in which our own RAN ship Voyager was put in danger.
I attach an excerpt from the book “The History of HMAS Voyager” by Ralph Symond (ISBN – 949 089 214,)
“Voyager’s Commanding Officer reported his ship’s proceedings for April (1942):
April 6th – Further repairs to steering engine delayed the ship sailing.
1104 – Slipped and proceeded to join US destroyer JOHN D. EDWARDS escorting S.S. QUEEN MARY bound for Fremantle at mean speed 26.4 knots. Increased speed to 27 knots to take up station ahead. (I was some miles astern owing to my late departure). At 27 knots the Engine Room found it very difficult to reduce funnel smoke.
1518 – In station ahead S.S. QUEEN MARY.
1600 – Auxiliary steam line joint to steering engine burst and caused the wheel to jamb. This necessitated VOYAGER stopping and reversing engines to get out of QUEEN MARY’S way. I decided to return to harbour for repairs to steering engine.” An ex-stroker serving aboard Voyager at the time of this incident, recalled the jambed wheel caused somewhat more concern among the crew than Lieutenant Commander Robinson’s report indicates. Lind and Payne, in `Scrap Iron Destroyers’, show that there was good reason for concern aboard Voyager:
“A zig zag course was being followed by the ships and as it was a fast convoy the vessels changed direction sharply. Just after dark the Navigator ordered a change in course to conform with the QUEEN, and to his horror Voyager plunged forward on a collision course. He ordered one engine astern and the other ahead, and the destroyer swung slowly away. The steering had failed again, and had not the ship responded to her propellers she would have rammed the liner amidships. ” I was serving in Voyager at this time, as a Signalman V/S3, and have always remembered how the Queen Mary, just astern of Voyager, looked like a city building bearing down on top of us. On watch, I had my eyes glued on her, reporting to the OOW time and time again “Queen Mary altering course to port (or starboard), Sir”.
from Alfred Watts, (member), who joined the RANR in May 1938 and served from 3 September 1939 to 12 June 1946.
[Ed:One queries the suitability of “Voyager” as an escort for “Queen Mary”, particularly as an anti-submarine escort. Unless she had been fitted with a retractable dome during her post Mediterranean refit in 1941, the old dome slung underneath the keel from a davit on the upper deck and positioned in the dome housing by wires hauled up from inboard – could only be shipped and unshipped when the ship was stopped. At 27 knots, one risked losing the dome and, further, the asdic set was of little use at that speed.
Lind & Paynes’ account varies somewhat from “Voyager’s” Report of Proceedings.]