HMAS WARRAMUNGA reporting
17 November 2011
Reporting in the 15 November 2011 edition of the Daily Telegraph makes a number of incorrect assertions. The article insinuates that the Executive Officer was “relieved from duty” as an “action” following a “drunken brawl in Singapore”. This was not the case. The Executive Officer has been temporarily stood aside for a completely unrelated matter which occurred prior to the ship’s visit to Singapore and is currently the subject of an administrative inquiry
The article states that “Navy high command did not know about the incident until questioned from the media”. This is also incorrect. Senior officers within Fleet Command were made aware of the incident soon after its occurrence.
Thirdly, it was stated the Navy refused to answer questions on this subject. This is not the case. Very careful consideration is given to all media requests to ensure a factually and legally correct response. Navy has a responsibility to protect the privacy of its members and the integrity of its administrative and disciplinary processes. This will necessarily feature in our responses to journalists.
The article further states the “Warramunga has been plagued by alcohol and drug abuse”. Navy has no evidence to support this assertion.
The matters relating to the tragic death Leading Seaman Livingston remain under investigation. Navy will not comment on these types of matters except to correct errors of fact.
The responses provided by Navy are detailed below.
1. Did the so-called “minor scuffle’’ involving crew from HMAS Warramunga in Singapore last for 45 minutes?
No. A verbal exchange and a consequent short scuffle lasted only a few minutes.
2. Was the only officer present a female from the engineering department and was she intoxicated?
As the matter may be the subject of an administrative or disciplinary investigation it would be inappropriate to comment.
3. Is she a divisional officer to the sailors present?
See response to question 2.
4. Was a female sailor punched in the face during the “scuffle’’?
See response to question 2.
- Did the female engineering officer and other sailors leave the ship again later that morning and return around midday in a drunk state?
The ship was planned to depart at 4 pm and shore leave was granted until 2pm.
No personnel returned onboard in a drunk state.
6. Was a sailor on Warramunga detected with marijuana in their system earlier this year and allowed to remain on duty? If so provide details regarding why given the navy’s zero tolerance drugs policy?
One sailor recorded a 'preliminary positive' test for marijuana on 14 Dec 10 following a routine random drug test. This result was confirmed following lab testing on 13 Jan 11. Following the preliminary positive result an assessment on the sailor’s ability to remain working onboard was conducted, taking into account the circumstances, duties that the sailor was performing, background and past work performance. The sailor was allowed to remain working onboard while the formal administrative process was underway. The sailor involved was subsequently administratively sanctioned through the imposition of a formal warning.
7. Has navy detected a drug culture on the ship including attempts by sailors to buy drugs in China last year?
There is no evidence to suggest there is a drug culture onboard the ship or that there were any attempts by sailors to purchase drugs in China last year. The Navy policy on drugs is well understood onboard. Last financial year Warramunga exceeded the mandated number of random drug tests by 33% and continues this aggressive testing program in 2011. The only positive test returned was as per response to question 6 which occurred in Australia.
8. Did several sailors on the ship test positive to alcohol while on duty earlier this year? If so provide details?
HMAS Warramunga, like the rest of Navy has a very rigorous Random Breath Testing Program. Since the beginning of 2011 Warramunga has conducted 630 tests. Of these, 16 tests recorded a blood alcohol level of greater than 0.02%. These tests are conducted on personnel prior to going on duty. Personnel who test positive are not permitted to commence their duty.
9. Was the sailor who died in Cambodia last week one of these and was he attending alcohol counselling?
10. Has an officer from HMAS Warramunga been relieved of their position, landed ashore and sent home to Australia? If so provide full details including reasons, rank, gender etc?
Yes. An officer from Warramunga was temporarily removed from their position early in the ship’s deployment and was returned to Australia while a formal inquiry is conducted. It is completely unrelated to the incident in Singapore.
11. Could you also confirm that the captain of HMAS Warramunga is Commander Michael Turner.
Vice Admiral RAN
Chief of Navy