This year the world is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and Tasmania's hung parliament where Kevin Lyons' Centre Party and the Liberals formed a coalition to take government, but it also signifies the anniversary of destroyer USS Frank E Evans' collision with HMAS Melbourne II.
Ross resident Gary Smith was asleep in the early hours of June 3, 1969, but was soon awake when the Evans crossed Melbourne's bow while attempting to move in the planeguard position in the South China Sea, cutting the former in two and killing 74 American sailors.
Mr Smith was 18 in 1969, having recently marked two years' service with the Royal Australian Navy when he was deployed to HMAS Melbourne II.
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Recalling the collision almost 50 years to the day since it happened, Mr Smith said it was "still vivid".
Despite the event happening 50 years ago, it has played on his mind ever since.
"Initially I had nightmares about it. It was very visual - the bow section drifted off to the port side of the Melbourne and we saw the bow dip and then went up and then it sank," he said.
"It went down within about three minutes, but at the time it felt like an eternity.
"You could hear the screaming 'help us, help us', because it was three o'clock in the morning; it was quiet."
All we're looking for is a plaque of remembrance somewhere.Gary Smith
After gathering on the ship's flight deck, the Melbourne's 1326 seamen started to do what they could to help the stricken US vessel.
"We concentrated our efforts on the stern side of the Evans, which was floating down our starboard side. Somebody tied a rope to it so it wouldn't drift away," Mr Smith said.
"That's when we got the rest of the survivors off the stern section."
Once the survivors were on board the Melbourne, they started treating the survivors, many of whom had steam burns.
"It was an organised chaos."
"Although it seemed like bedlam, it was pretty well organised in such a way that we knew that the main task was to get the souls off the stern section. Then the aircraft were trying to pick up anybody that was lost in the ocean.
"It was quite surreal to think about. Nobody had to really tell anybody to do anything; it was like you're instincts kicked in," he said.
They stayed in the South China Sea for four days conducting clean up operations and waiting for bodies to surface, but nobody was allowed to call Australia so Mr Smith's parents had no idea if he survived.
"My parents heard on the news HMAS Melbourne had been involved in a collision in the South China Sea and there'd been loss of life. That's all they knew for four days."
Then the Melbourne sailed to Singapore to be "patched up" and on to Sydney.
Mr Smith served in the navy for 10 years, but feels this incident had not been given the recognition it - and the sailors who lost their lives - deserved.
"I couldn't work out why I was feeling nervous and jittery at the beginning of the year and then it came to me why - it was getting to the stage where it was the 50th anniversary," he said.
"Nothing had been done and nothing had been said about something that, in my mind, was significant - and it has been for 50 years of my life.
"When two people get married and spend 50 years together it's significant; this is no less significant."
After sharing these thoughts at the Ross RSL branch, Mr Smith was put in touch with fellow navy man Commodore Malcolm Baird, who lives at Campbell Town.
"I thought I was being self-centred about it, but I realised when I met Malcolm I wasn't."
Commodore Baird suggested Mr Smith visit the naval memorial at Ulverstone, which he did.
"He said to me if I go to the memorial at Ulverstone and put a flower on it, it will be for all of us. And he's right."
There he saw the memorial bench and plaque for HMAS Voyager II, recognising a similar incident five years before the Melbourne's 1969 collision with Evans.
"It not only memorialises it [HMAS Voyager II], but signifies the risks of an accident like that occurring. I thought why can't we have that?"
He would like something similar for HMAS Melbourne II.
"If I can get a plaque or a seat up there to commemorate it, I'd be happy," Mr Smith said.
"All we're looking for is a plaque of remembrance somewhere. There's nothing in Tasmania, ... nothing anywhere that really recognises the event for what it was.
"Service personnel, for the most part, won't visit the War Memorial in Canberra - it's too commercialised and offers them no solitude."
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