High Seas: Disaster by Moonlight

On the eve of a SEATO naval exercise dubbed "Sea Spirit," Captain John P. Stevenson, skipper of the Australian aircraft carrier H.M.A.S. Melbourne, dined on board in Manila Bay with several allied naval officers. Talk turned to the somber subject of collision. Five years earlier, Melbourne had sliced into an Australian destroyer, and 82 hands had been lost. Stevenson said that his country's morale could not stand another such mishap involving the fleet's flagship. Four nights later, his fears became fact.

Cruising on a calm and brightly moonlit South China Sea last week during the naval exercise, the 16,000-ton Melbourne...

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