Letter to the Editor - The Mercury
20 March 2013
Dear Mr Holman,
On Monday 18 March 2013 the online version of your newspaper published an editorial which related to the article entitled “Incat sailing at full speed” (17 March 2013). I feel compelled to respond given the highly emotive and inaccurate attack on both the Navy and the Department of Defence.
There is no doubt that both Incat and Austal build world-class fast catamarans; we should all be proud of that. There is, however, one simple truth in this debate: the fast catamaran is a specialised vessel and if it met Navy’s capability needs then there is no doubt we would have such a vessel in service.
The comparisons to the US Navy and to East Timor in your editorial are both inappropriate. The US Navy’s fleet of 285 ships gives it a wide range of options to have many different ship types. The RAN is around one sixth the size and this fleet size means we have far fewer ship types.
The fast catamaran was useful in East Timor but there were particular circumstances that made it so, principally the existence in Dili of established wharf infrastructure that allowed easy unloading of equipment. However, Navy’s general needs are focused on operational scenarios where established port infrastructure does not exist or has been destroyed (as was the case in Aceh following the tsunami in 2004). The reality is that the fast catamaran is much less useful in these circumstances.
The Navy understands its equipment needs for the specific missions it is required to contribute to. It also understands the need for taxpayers’ dollars to be spent on equipment that has the broadest possible range of uses.
R.J. GRIGGS, AO, CSC
Vice Admiral, Royal Australian Navy
Chief of Navy