In 1909 the Admiralty proposed the creation of a Pacific fleet consisting of three fleet units to be operated by Imperial forces in the Pacific region. Each fleet unit would be built around a battle-cruiser, supported by several light cruisers. One of these fleet units would comprise the Royal Australian Navy. With Australian Government agreement to this concept, work was commenced on the ships. The light cruiser HMAS Melbourne was built in the United Kingdom and commissioned in January 1913. On 4 October 1913 she entered Sydney Harbour with other ships of the fleet unit.

Upon the outbreak of war Melbourne was engaged in operations against the German Pacific colonies. She was present at the capture of Samoa and landed a force which took Nauru on 9 September. Returning to Australian waters, she joined the escort of the first troop convoy from Australia to the Middle East, which departed Albany on 1 November 1914. On 9 November, Melbourne, commanding the convoy after the departure of HMS Minotaur, ordered HMAS Sydney to investigate a strange ship sighted off the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, which led to the destruction of SMS Emden.

Melbourne left the convoy at Colombo on 15 November and proceeded to the Atlantic Ocean. In December 1914, Melbourne was deployed to the Caribbean and based at Bermuda. For the next 18 months, she carried out patrol duties between the islands of the West Indies and along the east coast of North America, in concert with HMAS Sydney.

In September 1916 Sydney and Melbourne were transferred to the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron for duties with the Grand Fleet in the North Sea. In company with HMS Southampton and Dublin, they undertook patrol, escort and screening duties.

In November 1917, Melbourne was fitted with an aircraft launching platform and a Sopwith Ships Pup fighter. On 1 June 1918, both Melbourne and Sydney launched their aircraft to engage two German reconnaissance aircraft. Melbourne's fighter lost its target in the clouds.

Melbourne was present at the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet on 21 November 1918. She returned to Australia in April 1919.

After the war, Melbourne carried out routine fleet duties, including exchange duties with the Mediterranean Fleet in 1926. She was disarmed and sailed for Portsmouth in 1928, her crew destined to commission the newly-built HMAS Australia [II]. Melbourne was broken up the next year in Scotland.

Specifications
Class:
Chatham Class light cruiser
Launched:
30 May 1912
Commissioned:
18 January 1913
Complement:
390/450
Length:
457 feet [139.29m]
Beam:
50 feet [15.24m]
Draught:
18 feet [5.46m]
Displacement:
5400 tons
Speed:
25.5 knots
Armament:
8 x 6-inch guns
4 x 3-pounder guns
2 x 21-inch torpedo tubes
Armour:
3 inch [7.61cm] side
Pendants
  • 86
  • 93
Reference
  • J. Bastock, Australia's Ships of War, (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1975).; R. Gillett, Australian & New Zealand warships, 1914-1945, (Lane Cove: Doubleday, 1983).; A.W. Jose, Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, Volume IX, The Royal Australian Navy, (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1937).; J.H. Straczek, The Royal Australian Navy: ships, aircraft and shore establishments, (Sydney: Navy Public Affairs, 1996).
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Related place
Battle honours
  • nil
Commanding officers
Decorations
  • Nil
Subjects
Alternative name HMAS Melbourne (1913-1928)