Precedent for Roosevelt captain’s action

As reported by USNI News, Captain Brett Crozier was recently relieved of command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) by Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly for showing “extremely poor judgement” while attempting to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among the 4,800 members of his crew.

According to Modly, Crozier allowed a letter he wrote to his chain of command, which outlines his view of the problem the ship faces and the immediate support he requires to deal with it, to reach informal channels by sending an email out “pretty broadly”, the US Naval Institute reports.

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Shark 02 loss remembered

Executive Officer HMAS Albatross, Commander Nigel Rowan RAN lays a wreath at the ‘Shark 02’ Memorial during the service to remember those lost in the Sea King helicopter crash on 2 April 2005.

In the close-knit world of Naval Aviation, April 2 is a sombre day for many personnel as they remember and reflect on the loss of nine Australian Defence Force personnel who died when Sea King helicopter ‘Shark 02’ crashed while on a humanitarian support mission on the Indonesian island of Nias in 2005.

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Japanese destroyer holed in Chinese trawler collision

China accused Japan of sailing a warship in its waters after a collision with a fishing boat in the East Sea.

Beijing’s foreign ministry criticised the activities of the JS Shimakaze, a Hatakaze-class guided missile destroyer, which was left with a one-metre hole in its hull after the accident about 120 miles southeast of Shanghai and 400 miles west of Japan’s Yakushima island, The Times reports.

WO who paved the way for women

First Warrant Officer for the WRANS Lenore Maiden, right, being congratulated by the OIC WRANS Chief Officer Norma Uhlmann at HMAS Cerberus in 1972. (Image published in Navy News 24 November 1972)

The Royal Australian Navy has paid tribute to a sailor who paved the way for women in service by becoming the first woman promoted to the highest rank as a senior sailor, Navy Daily reports.

Warrant Officer Agnes Lenore ‘Lennie’ Maiden, who served in the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS) for nearly 29 years, passed away in Brisbane yesterday, aged 82.

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US Navy and the pandemic

The U.S. Navy’s two massive hospital ships, the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy, are presently deployed to Los Angeles, California and New York City, New York, respectively. Both vessels are helping to ease the burden on hospitals ashore that are treating growing numbers of patients with the COVID-19 novel coronavirus by providing critical medical attention to individuals with other, unrelated ailments. The ships have become an important symbol of the U.S. government’s response to the pandemic, which makes it all the more interesting to remember that the Navy pushed to retire them two years ago, the Drive reports.

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The Navy and the 1918-19 flu pandemic

By Greg Swinden

The world is currently combatting the Coronavirus 19 (COVID 19) which originated in China and has now spread throughout the globe. Australia has fortunately been spared, so far, the worst of the outbreak but this is not the first pandemic to reach our shores.

In 1918, towards the end of the First World War, the world began suffering the worst pandemic since the Black Death (Great Bubonic Plague of 1346-1353 which killed an estimated 75-200 million). The 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic killed more than 50 million people worldwide and was erroneously called the ‘Spanish Influenza’; as it was neutral Spain that first reported the outbreak which is now widely accepted as having originated in the United States in late 1917. The disease was taken to Europe by US troops where it spread throughout Britain and France during 1918 1 . There were three waves of the virus as it mutated and these became more and more virulent as the disease spread world-wide 2 .

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Australian Code Breakers

Australian Code Breakers. The extraordinary story of a headmaster turned cryptographer, and our top-secret war with the Kaiser’s Reich. By James Phelps. Harper Collins, Sydney, 2020.

Reviewed by Tim Coyle

The cover of Australian Code Breakers depicts the book’s main characters, the chief of which is Naval Instructor Frederick Wheatley. With him appear Rear Admiral William Creswell, First Naval Member of the Australian Commonwealth Naval Board, George Patey, ‘Rear Admiral in the Royal Australian Navy to Command His Majesty’s Australian Fleet’ and Commander Walter Thring, nominally Creswell’s assistant but actually a gifted strategic thinker credited with preparing the RAN for war. 

The author, James Phelps, is billed on the cover as ‘Australia’s #1 Bestselling True Crime Writer’  and the book is summarised as ‘a thrilling, fast-paced and thoroughly modern telling of one of Australia’s greatest military triumphs, written by our number-one true crime writer’.

The story covers the well-known, but always engaging and dramatic, seizing of the German Mercantile Code Book (Handelsverkehrbuch – HVB) at the outbreak of war in 1914 from the German ship Hobart in Port Phillip by Captain Richardson, the District Naval Officer, and the efforts of Frederick Wheatley to break the code. This was an early intelligence coup which stood the RAN in good stead with the Admiralty. However, subsequent Admiralty actions deprived Patey and his fleet unit the opportunity to engage the German East Asia Squadron which achieved victory in the Battle of Coronel but was itself destroyed at the Falkland Islands action.

Phelps’ bibliography shows his extensive use of primary sources in the National Archives of Australia (NAA) files pertaining to signals intelligence, ship movements and incidents associated with the period and his secondary sources include works by well-known naval historians. The Appendix provides reproduced original documents from the NAA files which add to the narrative.   

However, the ‘thrilling, fast-paced and thoroughly modern telling’ is highly coloured and heavy with exaggeration. There is little or no regard paid to accuracies in naval protocol or the technology of the times. The book includes ‘modern’ interpretations of the battles at Coronel, the Falkland Islands and the Sydney-Emden action.

Wheatley’s HVB code breaking is a tale worth telling to today’s generation and the writing style might appeal to a younger generation readership. However, those not attracted to thrill-seeking from fast-paced and modern tellings might pass on this one. 

ADF must find new balance

By Michael Shoebridge*

It’s time to upend the idea of a ‘balanced force’ in Australian defence policy.

Defence leaders have talked for decades about the 60,000-person ADF as a balanced force, with a ­little bit of something to do many things.

Why break away from it now? Well, as economist Paul Samuelson said, ‘When events change, I change my mind.’ Since the government’s 2016 defence white paper, we’ve seen events that change the balanced force equation.

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Arunta fires first Sparrow missile

Following a 20-month upgrade, Royal Australian Navy warship HMAS Arunta has fired its first Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) off the coast of Western Australia, Navy Daily reports. 

The ESSM is a surface-to-air weapon that uses radar homing guidance to counter fast-moving anti-ship missiles, forming part of Arunta’s air defence capability.

The Anzac Class Frigate is the first of her class to undergo the Anzac Midlife Capability Assurance Program (AMCAP) upgrade at Henderson, Western Australia as part of Australia’s Warship Asset Management Agreement (WAMA) Alliance.

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