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HMAS Melbourne was a Chatham class light cruiser built for the Royal Australian Navy between 1911 and 1913. At the start of the First World War her assigned task was to go to Fremantle and defend the south western approaches to Australia, while the bulk of the Australian fleet gathered south of Port Moresby. In the face of von Spee’s German Pacific Fleet, that order was changed, and the Melbourne joined the main fleet.
Together with the battlecruiser Australia and the French cruiser Montcalm the Melbourne helped to defend a New Zealand expedition that captured the German colony of Samoa. On 30 August the convoy reached Samoa and on the next day the warships departed to collect an Australian convoy heading for Rabaul. In mid-September she took part in the capture of German New Guinea.
At the end of September Melbourne and her sister ship Sydney were amongst the ships allocated to guard the ANZAC troop convoy on its way to Britain. On 9 November Melbourne was in charge of the convoy when news arrived that the German raider Emden was attacking the Cocos Islands. The captain of the Melbourne dispatched the Sydney to intercept the German raider. In the resulting battle the Emden was forced to run aground.
The Melbourne and Sydney accompanied the convoy in the Mediterranean, and was then posted to the Atlantic, as part of the movement of ships designed to catch von Spee. In December they were both moved to the West Indies to deal with the Karlsruhe , where they remained until 1918.
In the aftermath of the battle of Jutland the two ships were posted to the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron of the Grant Fleet, to improve Jellico’s fast scouting capability. On 18-19 October the Melbourne was one of four cruisers dispatched to locate the German High Seas Fleet on their last sortie of 1916.
In October 1917 she took part in attempts to find the German High Seas Fleet, but the British efforts failed to prevent an attack on the Scandinavian convoys.
In March 1919 the Melbourne left Spithead and returned to Australia. From October 1927 to February 1929 she was the flagship of the Royal Australian Navy, before being paid off in 1928.
4,500 nautical miles at 16kts
Armour – deck
1.5in – 3/8in
2in on 1in plate
- conning tower
Eight 6in guns
30 May 1912
Sold for break up
Captain M. L. E. Silver (1914, 1915)