- Loosli, Geoffrey, Rear Admiral, RAN
- Ship histories and stories, Book reviews, Naval Engagements, Operations and Capabilities
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Melbourne II
- September 1999 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
He believes that the acts or omissions of contributory negligence found about Stevenson were formulated only a few days before the end of the long deliberative period prior to concluding the report and that they were the “invention” of Rear Admiral King. He claimed there were six particulars of negligence put forward by King but he was dissuaded from proceeding with four of them.
He also writes of the period leading up to the court martial of Stevenson dwelling on his opinion, shared by eminent QCs, that there was not the necessary basis established for a successful court martial and that he and others had informed the convening Authority, Rear Admiral Crabb, accordingly. He labels the actual court martial as a farce and puts forward his opinion that it was proceeded with to content American authorities.
There follows an Afterword by The Honourable Gordon Samuels relating his experience representing Captain Stevenson at the court martial. He concludes by saying that it was impossible to regard it as a contest. “As Jo Stevenson has made clear, it was more in the nature of a ritual sacrifice. The sacrifice was to be exacted whatever the result of the legal proceedings. And it was.”
The book concludes with eight contributions from Australian and United States sailors, the most sad of which records the loss of the three Sage brothers who had served on board the Frank E. Evans.
The author chose not to furnish extensive footnotes but to write in human terms the story of the tragedy and subsequent events. This makes the book very easy to read and understand with or without a naval background. It holds the attention of the reader such as to make it a book one will want to read at one sitting. Apart from the disaster of the collision and the loss of life and the shattering experiences of those who survived, one is left with a very disturbing feeling that a perceived need to satisfy national interests will be sufficient to divert men of integrity to manipulate situations at the expense of an individual. This may happen in the dog-eat-dog world of business or in the political sphere but surely not in the Navy.
Without the persistence, perseverance and determination of the author those who were not caught up in this tragic event would not be made aware of the details of the day to day progress of the inquiry and its aftermath. She thereby merits our gratitude and reinforces our prayers that those who follow in the Navy will learn from the actions of those involved and never ever let such situations arise again.