HMAS Melbourne (1912)

HMAS Melbourne was a Town class
Town class cruiser (1910)
The Town class was a group of twenty-one light cruisers built for the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy . These vessels were long-range cruisers, suitable for patrolling the vast expanse covered by the British Empire...

 light cruiser operated by the Royal Australian Navy
Royal Australian Navy
The Royal Australian Navy is the naval branch of the Australian Defence Force. Following the Federation of Australia in 1901, the ships and resources of the separate colonial navies were integrated into a national force: the Commonwealth Naval Forces...

 (RAN). Commissioned in 1913, the cruiser served during World War I. She was paid off in 1928, and broken up for scrap in 1929.

Design and construction

Melbourne was a Town class
Town class cruiser (1910)
The Town class was a group of twenty-one light cruisers built for the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy . These vessels were long-range cruisers, suitable for patrolling the vast expanse covered by the British Empire...

 light cruiser
Light cruiser
A light cruiser is a type of small- or medium-sized warship. The term is a shortening of the phrase "light armored cruiser", describing a small ship that carried armor in the same way as an armored cruiser: a protective belt and deck...

. The ship had a standard displacement of 5,400 tons, was 456 foot long overall and 430 feet (131.1 m) long between perpendiculars, had a beam of 49 in 10 in (15.19 m), a maximum draught of 19 in 7 in (5.97 m), and a mean draught of 15.75 feet (4.8 m). The ship's company consisted of 485: 31 officers, and 484 sailors.

The propulsion machinery consisted of Yarrow boilers feeding Parsons steam turbines, which supplied 25,000 shaft horsepower to the ship's four propellers. Although only designed to reach 25 knots (13.6 m/s), Melbourne was capable of sailing at 25.7 knots (14 m/s).

The ship was laid down by Cammell Laird
Cammell Laird
Cammell Laird, one of the most famous names in British shipbuilding during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, came about following the merger of Laird, Son & Co. of Birkenhead and Johnson Cammell & Co. of Sheffield at the turn of the twentieth century.- Founding of the business :The Company...

 at Birkenhead
Birkenhead is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral in Merseyside, England. It is on the Wirral Peninsula, along the west bank of the River Mersey, opposite the city of Liverpool...

 in England on 4 April 1911. She was launched on 30 May 1912 by Mrs. F. F. Braund, daughter of Australian philanthropist Robert Barr Smith
Robert Barr Smith
Robert Barr Smith was an Australian businessman and philanthropist.Smith was born at Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire, Scotland, the son of the Rev...

. Construction was completed on 18 January 1913, the same day Melbourne was commissioned into the RAN. The ship cost 405,000 pounds to build.


The cruiser's main armament consisted of eight BL 6 inches (152.4 mm) Mk XI* 50 calibre guns
BL 6 inch Mk XI naval gun
The BL 6 inch Gun Mark XI was a British 50 calibres high-velocity naval gun which was mounted as primary armament on cruisers and secondary armament on pre-dreadnought battleships.-History:...

. This was supplemented by a single QF 3-inch anti-aircraft gun
QF 3 inch 20 cwt
The QF 3 inch 20 cwt anti-aircraft gun became the standard anti-aircraft gun used in the home defence of the United Kingdom against German airships and bombers and on the Western Front in World War I. It was also common on British warships in World War I and submarines in World War II...

, two .303-inch Maxim gun
Maxim gun
The Maxim gun was the first self-powered machine gun, invented by the American-born British inventor Sir Hiram Maxim in 1884. It has been called "the weapon most associated with [British] imperial conquest".-Functionality:...

s, and two 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes (with seven torpedoes carried). A single Ordnance QF 12 pounder 8 cwt
Ordnance QF 12 pounder 8 cwt
The Ordnance QF 12 pounder 8 cwt was a Royal Navy "landing gun" intended for navy use ashore. "8 cwt" refers to the weight of the gun and breech, approximately 8 cwt = 8 x = 896 lb. This was how the British often differentiated between guns of the same calibre or weight of shell...

 field gun
Field gun
A field gun is an artillery piece. Originally the term referred to smaller guns that could accompany a field army on the march and when in combat could be moved about the battlefield in response to changing circumstances, as to opposed guns installed in a fort, or to siege cannon or mortars which...

, four QF 3 pounder Hotchkiss
QF 3 pounder Hotchkiss
The QF 3 pounder Hotchkiss was a light 47-mm naval gun introduced in 1886 to defend against new small fast vessels such as torpedo boats, and later submarines...

 saluting guns were also carried.

Operational history

On completion, Melbourne sailed from Portsmouth for Australia, arriving in Fremantle on 10 March 1913. Until August 1914, the cruiser was primarily involved in training cruises and port visits around Australia. During August and September, the cruiser operated with other Australian warships in the Pacific as a counter to the German East Asia Squadron
German East Asia Squadron
The German East Asia Squadron was a German Navy cruiser squadron which operated mainly in the Pacific Ocean between the 1870s and 1914...

, and was involved in the capture of several German colonies. 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
Australian and New Zealand Army Corps
The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps was a First World War army corps of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force that was formed in Egypt in 1915 and operated during the Battle of Gallipoli. General William Birdwood commanded the corps, which comprised troops from the First Australian Imperial...

 to Egypt. The cruiser left the convoy while in the Indian Ocean, and headed for Gibraltar, where she was then instructed to head for the Azores
The Archipelago of the Azores is composed of nine volcanic islands situated in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, and is located about west from Lisbon and about east from the east coast of North America. The islands, and their economic exclusion zone, form the Autonomous Region of the...

 in search of the German cruiser SMS Karlsruhe
SMS Karlsruhe (1912)
SMS Karlsruhe was a light cruiser of the built by the German Kaiserliche Marine . She had one sister ship, ; the ships were very similar to the previous s. The ship was laid down in 1911, launched in November 1912, and completed by January 1914...


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. 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
British Grand Fleet
The Grand Fleet was the main fleet of the British Royal Navy during the First World War.-History:It was formed in 1914 by the British Atlantic Fleet combined with the Home Fleet and it included 35-40 state-of-the-art capital ships. It was initially commanded by Admiral Sir John Jellicoe...

, stationed at Scapa Flow
Scapa Flow
right|thumb|Scapa Flow viewed from its eastern endScapa Flow is a body of water in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, United Kingdom, sheltered by the islands of Mainland, Graemsay, Burray, South Ronaldsay and Hoy. It is about...

. From January until June 1917, Melbourne was docked at Birkenhead for major repairs to her propulsion system. The cruiser remained with the Grand Fleet until 30 November 1918: during the entire war, Melbourne was not involved in any sea battles. Initially, the cruiser was not awarded any battle honour
Battle honour
A battle honour is an award of a right by a government or sovereign to a military unit to emblazon the name of a battle or operation on its flags , uniforms or other accessories where ornamentation is possible....

s, 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.

Melbourne stayed in Portsmouth until 7 March 1919, then sailed for Sydney via Suez, Singapore, and Darwin. The ship was paid off into reserve on 5 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. The cruiser was returned to service on 8 October 1925, and left Sydney for England on 23 November. Melbourne returned in August 1926, and resumed duties as Flagship.


On 9 February 1928, Melbourne commenced her last voyage to England, where she arrived on 12 April. Melbourne was decommissioned for the final time on 23 April, and was sold to the Alloa Shipbreaking Company on 8 December. The cruiser was transported to Birkenhead, and was broken up
Ship breaking
Ship breaking or ship demolition is a type of ship disposal involving the breaking up of ships for scrap recycling. Most ships have a lifespan of a few decades before there is so much wear that refitting and repair becomes uneconomical. Ship breaking allows materials from the ship, especially...

over the course of 1929.

External links

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