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"Survivor of Voyager/ HMAS Melbourne Collision gains compo



A QUEENSLAND man who survived the collision between the HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Voyager in 1964 has been awarded more than $2 million in damages.

Peter Norman Covington-Thomas, now 65, from Maroochydore in Queensland, successfully sued the Commonwealth for compensation over the naval disaster.

Eighty-two men died when the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne collided with the destroyer HMAS Voyager, slicing it in half, during a routine exercise off Jervis Bay on the New South Wales south coast in February 1964.

NSW Supreme Court Justice David Kirby today awarded Mr Covington-Thomas $2.2 million, including $255,000 for lost earning capacity.

Justice Kirby found that if the Voyager disaster had not happened, Mr Covington-Thomas would have remained in the navy and he had suffered a "very substantial loss of earning capacity''.

"He was an exceptional sailor with significant capacity and potential, which had been recognised,'' Justice Kirby said.

Mr Covington-Thomas suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after the accident and was unable to continue in the navy.

The damages are believed to be the largest award over the maritime disaster so far, with another claimant winning $1.2 million last month.

At least another 40 cases relating to the collision remain in the judicial system.

Mr Covington-Thomas welcomed the payout as ``some light at the end of the tunnel''.

"Providing (the Commonwealth) doesn't put me through the trauma of waiting to find out whether they're going to appeal it or not, which is their right to do of course, but it'd be pretty traumatic for me,'' he told ABC radio.

"I think I've been put through the mill for quite long enough, actually.''

Mr Covington-Thomas said he had been fighting a legal battle for compensation since 1995.

"I would have settled for less had they come to the party back then but they have pushed this to this point.''

He urged other victims of the disaster to press for compensation.

"All those ex-sailors who went through this, hang in there men because you can work through this.
"It's just a matter of time to get through, so don't give up hope of getting through.''

The interesting thing is HE WAS POSTED TO HMAS MELBOURNE
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