Navy response to media reporting on patrol boat capability
2 November 2011
The Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Ray Griggs AM, CSC, RAN says reports on the state of morale among Navy’s patrol boat crews on border protection operations are incorrect. Vice Admiral Griggs also says a report in today’s Australian newspaper (Morale crisis on navy asylum patrol boats) shows a misunderstanding of how Navy maintains and operates its Armidale Class patrol boats and crews.
“These officers and sailors demonstrate great commitment in a relentless mission. They are doing an extremely important job exceptionally well every day of the year. My first priority is the safety and welfare of Navy people and I would not allow them to operate in an environment that they are ill prepared for or that is unsafe. ” Vice Admiral Griggs said.
“As with any machinery operating in the harsh marine environment each patrol boat will require regular maintenance. However, it needs to be emphasised that a patrol boat will not be sent to sea or remain underway if it would in any way compromise safety.”
The Australian article makes statements about “critical skills waivers”. This system of waivers has been in place since 2003 and coincided with the introduction of the formal technical regulatory system in the Navy. A waiver will only be granted by the Chief Staff Officer Engineering within Fleet Headquarters.
The Chief of Navy has also praised all Navy people assigned to the border protection mission.
The Commander of the Patrol Boat Force, Captain Nick Stoker who is responsible for operating and maintaining the Armidale fleet, also acknowledges the challenges of this mission.
“The ability to continue to provide the required levels of availability is testament to the commitment of our Navy people and all those who support the delivery of the capability,” Captain Stoker said. “We are achieving this through careful management of the operating cycles of each of the fourteen patrol boats and the twenty one crews. Planned major maintenance activity periods are, and remain, a routine element of these cycles. At any one time there maybe up to five patrol boats undergoing scheduled maintenance. This allows us to operate the number of boats required for the mission.”
Defence Media Operations 02 6127 1999