HMAS Melbourne (1912)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMAS Melbourne.
HMAS Melbourne
HMAS Melbourne
Career (Australia)
Namesake: City of Melbourne
Builder: Cammell Laird & Co Ltd
Laid down: 4 April 1911
Launched: 30 May 1912
Commissioned: 18 January 1913
Decommissioned: 23 April 1928
Motto: "Viries Acquiret Eundo"
Honours and
Battle honours:
Rabaul 1914
North Sea 1916–18
Fate: Sold for scrap in 1929
General characteristics
Class & type: Town class cruiser
Displacement: 5,400 tons
Length: 456 ft 10 38 in (139.252 m) length overall
430 ft (130 m) between perpendiculars
Beam: 49 ft 10 in (15.19 m)
Draught: 19 ft 7 in (5.97 m) maximum
15.75 ft (4.80 m) mean
Propulsion: Parsons turbines, Yarrow boilers, 25,000 shp, 4 screws
Speed: 27.5 knots (50.9 km/h; 31.6 mph)
Complement: 13 officers, 454 sailors
Armament: 8 × BL 6-inch (152.4 mm) Mk XI* 50 calibre guns
1 × QF 3-inch anti-aircraft gun
1 × 12-pounder field gun
2 × .303-inch Maxim guns
2 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes
4 × 3-pounder saluting guns
Armour: 2 inches (51 mm) on belt and deck

HMAS Melbourne was a Town class light cruiser operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The ship was laid down by Cammell Laird at Birkenhead in England in 1911, launched in 1912 and commissioned in 1913. At the start of World War I, Melbourne was involved in attempts to locate the German East Asia Squadron, and participated in the capture of German colonies in the Pacific, before being assigned to the North America and West Indies Stations. In 1916, the cruiser joined the Grand Fleet in the North Sea, where she remained for the remainder of the war. Melbourne spent late 1919 and early 1920 in reserve, then was flagship of the Royal Australian Navy from 1920 until 1928, except for a second period in reserve during 1924 and 1925. HMAS Melbourne paid off in the United Kingdom on 23 April 1928, and was scrapped in 1929.

Design and construction[edit]

Melbourne was a Town class light cruiser.[1] The ship had a standard displacement of 5,400 tons, was 456 feet 10 38 inches (139.252 m) long overall and 430 feet (130 m) long between perpendiculars, had a beam of 49 feet 10 inches (15.19 m), a maximum draught of 19 feet 7 inches (5.97 m), and a mean draught of 15.75 feet (4.80 m).[1] The ship's company consisted of 485: 31 officers, and 484 sailors.[2]

Looking aft from top of foremast, showing four 6-inch guns

The propulsion machinery consisted of Yarrow boilers feeding Parsons steam turbines, which supplied 25,000 shaft horsepower to the ship's four propellers.[2] Although only designed to reach 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph), Melbourne was capable of sailing at 25.7 knots (47.6 km/h; 29.6 mph).[1]

The ship was laid down by Cammell Laird at Birkenhead in England on 4 April 1911.[2] She was launched on 30 May 1912 by Mrs. F. F. Braund, daughter of Australian philanthropist Robert Barr Smith.[2] Construction was completed on 18 January 1913, the same day Melbourne was commissioned into the RAN.[2] The ship cost 405,000 pounds to build.[2]


The cruiser's main armament consisted of eight BL 6-inch (152.4 mm) Mk XI* 50 calibre guns.[1] This was supplemented by a single QF 3-inch anti-aircraft gun, two .303-inch Maxim guns, and two 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes (with seven torpedoes carried).[3] A single Ordnance QF 12-pounder 8 cwt field gun, four QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss saluting guns were also carried.[3]

Operational history[edit]

On completion, Melbourne sailed from Portsmouth for Australia, arriving in Fremantle on 10 March 1913.[2] Until August 1914, the cruiser was primarily involved in training cruises and port visits around Australia.[2] During August and September, the cruiser operated with other Australian warships in the Pacific as a counter to the German East Asia Squadron, and was involved in the capture of several German colonies.[2] Melbourne returned to Sydney on 20 September, and on 1 November joined the escort of the convoy transporting the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps to Egypt.[2] The cruiser left the convoy while in the Indian Ocean, and headed for Gibraltar, where she was then instructed to head for the Azores in search of the German cruiser SMS Karlsruhe.[2]

By the time she reached the Azores on 12 December, Melbourne had been reassigned to Bermuda as part of the North America and West Indies Station.[2] While on the Station, the cruiser patrolled the western Atlantic from Canada to Brazil. In August 1916, she sailed for Devonport in England, where she spent a month before joining the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron of the British Grand Fleet, stationed at Scapa Flow.[2] From January until June 1917, Melbourne was docked at Birkenhead for major repairs to her propulsion system.[2] The cruiser remained with the Grand Fleet until 30 November 1918: during the entire war, Melbourne was not involved in any sea battles.[2] Initially, the cruiser was not awarded any battle honours, but a reorganisation of the RAN honours system published in 2010 retroactively awarded the honours "Rabaul 1914" and "North Sea 1916–18" to the ship.[4][5]

Melbourne in dazzle camouflage in 1918. Melbourne was the only ship of the RAN to be painted in dazzle camouflage during World War I.[6]

Melbourne stayed in Portsmouth until 7 March 1919, then sailed for Sydney via Suez, Singapore, and Darwin.[2] The ship was paid off into reserve on 5[citation needed] August 1919 until 14 April 1920, when she was recommissioned. From 1920 until 1924, Melbourne operated primarily in Australian waters, with cruises to New Zealand and the Pacific islands, and served as Flagship of the Australian Squadron from 1922 until she was returned to reserve on 29 September 1924.[2] The cruiser was returned to service on 8 October 1925, and left Sydney for England on 23 November.[2] Melbourne returned in August 1926, and resumed duties as Flagship.[2]


Melbourne's wheel in storage at the Australian War Memorial's Treloar Technology Centre

On 9 February 1928, Melbourne commenced her last voyage to England, where she arrived on 12 April.[2] Melbourne was decommissioned for the final time on 23 April, and was sold to the Alloa Shipbreaking Company on 8 December.[2] The cruiser was transported to Birkenhead, and was broken up over the course of 1929.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d Cassells, The Capital Ships, p. 78
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Cassells, The Capital Ships, p. 79
  3. ^ a b Cassells, The Capital Ships, pp. 78–9
  4. ^ "Navy Marks 109th Birthday With Historic Changes To Battle Honours". Royal Australian Navy. 1 March 2010. Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  5. ^ "Royal Australian Navy Ship/Unit Battle Honours". Royal Australian Navy. 1 March 2010. Archived from the original on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  6. ^ Nash, John (January 2014). "Confuse or Conceal - the use of camouflage". Semaphore (Sea Power Centre - Australia) 2014 (2). 


  • Cassells, Vic (2000). The Capital Ships: their battles and their badges. East Roseville, NSW: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7318-0941-6. OCLC 48761594. 

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