Voyager truth? Survivor questions findings into disaster
A HMAS VOYAGER survivor has overcome years of turmoil to make several startling revelations that could cripple the findings of two royal commissions into the sinking of the domed destroyer.
Former senior radio operator Alan Hellier, who was dining in the in the Voyager's cafeteria when the ship was struck by the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne, believes faulty communications equipment may have been the cause of Australia's worst peace-time disaster in the military.
Eighty-two of the Voyager's 314 crew were killed when the destroyer went down off Jervis Bay on February 10, 1964.
A royal commission in 1964 found both boats were to blame for the collision, while a historic second royal commission in 1967 found the Voyager's skipper, Captain Duncan Stevens, was medically unfit for command.
But after 50 years of keeping his silence, the 81-year-old Hellier is now ready to tell his story, rubbishing stories of a drunk Stevens and revealing the faulty transmitter that may have lead to the disaster.
"I knew (Stevens) well. I spoke to him every day at sea," Hellier told The Guardian in an exclusive interview.
"I know he definitely never drank at sea and never on the bridge.
"We always had one problem with this transmitter.
"The senior ship gives all the directions on that frequency for course and speed and to change positions."
Hellier gave evidence at both commissions but believe his evidence was disregarded due to his age.