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Does the R.A.N need an Aircraft carrier?

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posted on Oct, 5 2004 @ 11:47 PM
Finally in 1993/4 The ALP announced they were purchasing two 20+ year old USN surplus Newport News LSTs. The US DoD was almost giving them away. They announced that they ships had been in Reserve for several years and were the best of the lot. The plan was to rebuild them (Lose the horns & bow ramp, stretch the superstructure, create a stern flight deck) in local yards and operate them as LPAs....they were also initially described by politicians and staff as helecopter support ships, a reference they quickly dropped when asked if this was an admission of error over the carrier decision of 1983. The fact they could carry four helecopters but only operate one at a time was besides the point. They created the impression. The problem was the refit was supposed to take two years and AUS$40 million.

The ships, renamed HMA Ships Kanimbla and Manoora were not fully commissioned until after the East Timor operations in 1999 at cost of well over AUS$100 million. The ships have performed stirling service within thier limited capabilities, and largely thanks to the work of thier crews. Both ships have been involved in the war on terror, in the Persian gulf, immigration and in humanitarian operations in the Solomon Islands and Bouganville. They spend more time away than at home. Critics say however, that in a long line of Labour mistakes during thier years in office, this was yet another, and that we would have got more value for money sooner, by building two larger more capable ships in a foreign yard.

The final acquisition of the RAN to date has been "new" light ASW helecopters for the Anzac class FFH ordered under the Labour Government in 1989. Deliveries of the Anzacs began in 1995/6 with the last of eight commissioning next year (2005). There was also a plan to build up to 12 Patrol Corvettes. Belatedly the Labour Government accepted the need to buy additional ASW helos. The S-70/SH-60 was rejected on cost basis.

The Anzacs were the only good call the ALP made, and even then they built the worlds biggest patrol boats. They only funded some of the weapons systems to be fitted. They referred to it as being "Fitted For, Not With"...which doesnt mean you just plug them in. The ships have to go back in for major yard work to plumb and wire them if they ever get the systems. Its just the big gapping spaces that are there for the weapons to go into. This has been what the Howard government was correcting during thier building. God knows how good they would have been if the ALP had stayed in throughout the nineties.

A new Westland Lynx or Eurocopter was the expected winner. Instead a proposal was accepted from Kaman Helecopters of the USA to supply up to 20 zero timed upgraded SH-2 Super Seasprites. the proposal involved taking 20+ year old ex-USN SH-2F and gutting them, fitting them with new engines (like in the S-70) and avionics and calling them SH-2G(A)s. the Australian Government also called for a redesign of the cockpit and a system that allowed them to operate with 2 rather than the usual 3 crew.

The deal was accepted despite the fact that the USN was phasing out the SH-2. At the time it was signed even the USNRes squadrons had stopped flying them. the order was also cut to 11 machines when the Labour Government cancelled plans for the corvettes because they couldnt sell the design to regional neighbours who were looking at European types.

The ALP was voted out, but the Liberal government of John Howard largely got stuck with the ALPs problems (Our Collins Subs were their product, but its only been through the hard efforts of the crew and the willingness of the current government to fund the necessary measures that we now have some of the best conventional subs in the world)

The final straw was that Littons in the USA was the prime sub contractor on the two crew operating systems. When Littons got a big US Defence Contract, they found a big loophole in the Australian Contract and pulled most of the development team off the RAN job and onto the US one. We considered suing Kaman, the helos were overdue. The system software wasnt done and we had payed like 95% of a billion plus contract out. The Howard Government realised we would still be out of pocket a billion dollars and still be in need of helecopters.

The SH-2G(A)s began to be delivered to the RAN four years late, and on restricted conditions (work still pending). Thier original specification was to supply an over the horizon attack capabilty to thier other wise weapons light corvette design, using Penguin ASMs. But we never got the corvettes. They were used to fill gaps in the Anzacs hangars, but now the spare Sea Hawks of the FFGs having been filling in quite nicely thank you.

The NZ Government and RNZAF used thier brains however. They acquired three SH-2F pending getting thier six SH-2G(NZ). Then they got the Gs in 1999 on time because they took them off the shelf with three crew and no clever specific mods.

posted on Oct, 5 2004 @ 11:49 PM
We go to the polls this weekend, and there is a chance the Howard government will be beaten on domestic issues mostly.

Howards government ordered 14 new Armidale class patrol boats (well 2 extra ones on last years orders). They are bigger faster and longer ranged than the twenty five year old Fremantles they will replace. They are also poxier. a light cannon, made out of aluminium, and they look like armed pleasure cruisers that could be taken out with an RPG fired from a row boat.

This at a time, when the same politicians on both sides are talking about Australia getting involved in joint anti piracy and anti terrorism naval patrols with Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Phillipines in the shipping channels in the islands to our north. At the moment they are talking about intelligence and training but you gotta know we will be asked to put our muscle where our mouths are and the silly little buggers wouldnt be able to see the difference between our "police boats" and the tough little sluggers they operate up there.

There are also orders pending for three replacement amphibious ships, two support ships and most importantly three Air Defence Destroyers, all for delivery over the next five to twelve years. The ADW DDGs are scheduled for delivery between 2013-2017. We scrapped our current DDGs in 2001, nobody wants to lease surplus USN DDGs because of the LST fiasco (despite being a totally different set of conditions)

The Howard government will order the DDGs in early 2005 and build them here. If they are re-elected.

The Amphibious ships should start work within two -three years. They are looking at either a French design called the Mistral Class or ships from Izzar/Bazzan in Spain. These include a 25000 ton LHA based on the SCS design....basically a carrier.

The impression given is that the RAN is in the market for one 25000 ton ship and a couple of smaller ships in the 15000ton range.

I was thinking of voting ALP for the first time in 16 years on Saturday. Iv'e just made up my mind to vote for the Liberals, given

a. the ALPs history
b. the similarity between the ALPs pronouncements in the 1980s-90s and thier thier pronouncements in the lead up to this election. Hell thier shadow defence minister is Kim Beazley. He was Defence Minister when most of the stuffed decisions where made in the late 1980s

Sorry. Tomorrow. Why we need a carrier. Promise to keep it short and point form.

posted on Oct, 5 2004 @ 11:59 PM

Sorry. Tomorrow. Why we need a carrier. Promise to keep it short and point form.

heh, doubt it.

posted on Oct, 6 2004 @ 02:54 AM
Just give us one anyway. We'll find a use for it...

posted on Oct, 6 2004 @ 07:37 AM
We lost the carrier and fixed wing in 1983 because the ALP said we didnt need it.

For 30 odd years we had carriers. Two for over 20 years. When ever they pulled into a harbour or off a coast, people noticed. We made a real contribution to regional security. They gave us more angles and more options, militarily, but more importantly diplomatically. We got more respect regionally than we have had since 1983.

Even when we only had one carrier, its presence showing the flag around SE Asia and the Pacific showed we were serious about our role in regional security. When we declared we were not retaining the capability, we were announcing our indifference in the minds of our neighbours.

They say military spending is like paying insurance. As long as the premiums paid you have cover. HMAS Melbourne's availability was like the lottery. As long as you had the ticket, you had more chance of getting something out of it than if you didn't have one at all.

We tried to trade it for the ALPs sloppy use of diplomacy, crass blackmail using the aid money as a club against nations like PNG and Fiji and almost the diplomatic equivelent of crawling to the Tiger economies. It earned us scorn whenever we didnt tow thier line. We needed South East Asia more than they needed us, politically and economically. We were and sometimes still are prepared to even question a defence aqquisition or policy on the basis it might offend our neighbours, when the reverse never enters thier minds. They know how to play us on that.

And we paid small attention to what was happening in the ring of pacific states around us, and in that time they have become relative basket cases, evidence PNG, Bouganville, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Naru. Now we worry they are vunerable to criminals and terrorists, like many weakened nations.

Internationally, we are small cheese. Regionally we had, and are capable when we put our heads to it, political clout through the proper use of the military.

The point of having a capability is not to use the force of it, the success comes from applying it the right way to achieve a diplomatic result or a peaceful outcome. Especially if your country's reputation is a preference for the peaceful way, but a willingness and ability to use what you've got as a last resort.

So thats it for starters. Better?

posted on Oct, 6 2004 @ 07:58 AM
It wasn't because you didn't need it, although I can see thats what the politicians said at the time. HMAS Melbourne was to be replaced by HMAS Australia, unfortunately HMAS Australia was in fact HMS Invincible and Argentina invaded the Falklands (why didn't America help us out then?) just in time to cause the transfer of ownership to be scrapped, which left the RAN high and dry as far as carrier capability went as there was no chance of retaining the Melbourne in service by that point. I believe the scrapping was done in China after they had had a good look all over it.

posted on Oct, 6 2004 @ 03:32 PM
The ALPs Left faction and supporters were about the only ones who thought we didnt need a carrier. They claimed it was part of the leason they learn from the Falklands (!!??) Personally I wondered what book they were reading from.

The fact was Australia was the only country with a Government that drew such a conclusion and then willingly discarded the carrier. Argentina refitted 25 de Mayo and operated her Super Etendards off her into the 1990s. India operated INS Vikarant (sic) alongside the INS Virrant (sic) - ex HMS Hermes into the 1990s, the later staying in the fleet until thier "new" ex Soviet carrier comes in.

France built new carrier, UK a forth, Brazil brought the Foch as the Sao Paulo to replace Minas Gerias, Spain replaced the Delado with the SCS and is building a new 27000t job to join it. Italy has the Garibaldi, and have a second larger carrier joining them in 07. Russia operates one, China have several obstensibly for scrapping or casinos, plus there are reports they are building thier own, and always Rumors that Varyag will wear PLA-N colours. Thailand has the 1997 Bazan built Chakri Narubet, and now her economys back on its feet the Thais are putting her back into regular service with upgraded weapons and CIWS and PDMs.

Even in Japan they operate 4 Osumi class "LST". They have an island superstructure and only a 1/3 length deck, but her design drawings allow for the the deck to be extended to full length, incorporating a ski ramp!

In Navy, the Journal of the Naval League of Australia, it was reported the Japanese Defence Agency had submitted plans to the Diet for funding of a new class of "large helecopter carrying destroyers" (DDH designation).
The "Destroyer" weighs in at 16,000t. It has an island superstructure with armament set fore and aft, and a through deck platform for "helecopter operations" the complement is described as three Seahawk ASW with the capability to operate several Sea Dragon MCM helos, plus up to a dozen heavy lift helecopters. At least the RN called the Invincibles "Through Deck Cruisers" when they went for funding.

And finally, even the RANs short list for one of its new Amphibious ships in 2010-15 is a 27000t design based on the SCS offerred by Izzar/Bazzan of Spain.

posted on Oct, 6 2004 @ 03:50 PM
In 1983 Part of the ALPs line was that money on the carrier and Fleet Air Arm could be better spent. By thier way of thinking anything not military is better spending. Evidence the $1 billion dollar plus then spent by the ALP Government building a new Parliament house in Canberra to house the politicians in time for the Australian Bicentenial in 1988.

Anyway, case for the RAN having a carrier.

Taking as fact HMAS Melbourne was rust by 1983, we have the UK Offer.
HMS Hermes was surplus to requirements. Forget India. If we had said yes to the loan offer, she would have been HMAS Hermes pending delivery of the fully costed new built HMAS Australia in 1988-90.

What could have happened?

posted on Oct, 6 2004 @ 04:19 PM
HMS Hermes was a substantially larger carrier than the Majestic class CVLs. Over 30,000 tonnes I think. She was the bridging development between the the WW2 Illustrious class and subvariants, and ships like the Eagle Class and never built Gibraltars.

She was fitted out for fast jet operations until her conversion to firstly an ASW helecopter carrier, then a Commando Carrier and finally in RN Service a Harrier carrier. She retained her Landing Craft Davits, Command facilities for a sea - air - land force, a ramp for VSTOL jets, and her angled flight deck. Her aircraft complement was around 30 in wartime.

We had the option of a short refit to remove the ski jump and refitting catapults and arrester to operate the RAN Skyhawks and Trackers. Or we could have bit the bullet and and aqquired Harriers and extra Sea Kings or Sea Hawks. Options on Harriers. Buy Sea Harrier, lease ex USMC AV-8C Harrier Is pending an order for the new AV-8B Harrier IIs. Or maybe we could have been clever, and ordered a hybrid AV-8B with the Shar2's radar and BVRs.

RN deal. Your order a modfied Invincible, pay a peppercorn lease for Hermes, and buy an airwing from who you want. So we take the ALPs Parliament House fund and do the deal. I wouldve gone with the Harriers, because the A-4s and S-2s were already getting long in the tooth.

So, after completing her overhaul and work up with the ex HMAS Melbournes crew, HMAS Hermes sails into Sydney on 30 June 1984. She has her landing craft in place, and a full complement of AV-8C/Sea Harriers and Westland Sea King ASW & AEW. In the UK the keel is laid for HMAS Australia, and Boeing/BAE work together to incorporate the planned Shar2 radar/wpns upgrade into the Harrier II for the RANs order of 30. Hell the UK MoD even think "lets sell our Shars to India and get these instead"

Okay, we have a carrier.Why? what do we do with it?

posted on Oct, 6 2004 @ 04:34 PM
Okay HMAS Hermes has finished her first round of "showing the flag" and working up the Airgroup to full capacity with its leased Harriers, and paid for ASW and AEW birds. They have practiced helo ops with the RAAFs UH-1s and CH-47s, and landed US Army Black Hawks and USN Sea Hawks in trials during joint excercises. She's visited ports from Suva in Fiji to Osaka in Japan.

Where ever she goes so goes a DDG and FFG and a pair of DEs, along with the AOR Success. Okay, so it aint a USN Battlegroup, but by regional standards its a powerful impressive unit.

And its ours.

posted on Oct, 6 2004 @ 05:04 PM
Thats all very interesting, seriously, but sorry for bering a bit thick but where did Hermes come into it?

It was HMS Invincible that Australia 'bought' and renamed HMAS Australia as the govt had decided that we would use just two of the three Invincible class carriers that were still under cinstruction at the time, Illustrious and Indomitable (re-named before launch to Ark Royal due to popular demand).

As I said it was only the Falklands war that stopped this as we suddenly needed both ships we already had in service (Invincible and Hermes) and the other option of you buying one of the unfinished ships instead was said to be too expensive as they were brand new.

Of course I get the feeling that you know this and I missed something

posted on Oct, 6 2004 @ 05:49 PM
What do we use her for? Lets start with the proper application of power and assets

In May 1987 I had just started recruits in the Oz ArmyRes. Over the 7 years I met a lot of service personnel.

It was rumored that a week or so before the first military coup in Fiji Government ministers in Australia and NZ had a whiff of what was going to happen but were powerless to influence events. When the Fijian Officers led the coup against the new expat Indian influenced Parliament, we used empty hollow diplomatic and aid funding threats. The Fijians were not impressed by that or our military "threat". media here reported the Hawke Government had put a reinforced company group and its kit on HMAS Tobruk, the LSH, and had it steaming at 15kn between Norfolk Is and the Solomons, until we realised there was nothing we could do. The military was in, the elected government was out and the Colonels called the shots.
When the new civil administration wasnt good enough there was another coupe at the end of the year. It was a disaster for Fiji and the region. We had thrown in the towel and let it happen, and it set the tone for the next decade. And in the 1990s nostalgic Fijians tried it again.

Whats the Hermes version?

posted on Oct, 6 2004 @ 06:01 PM
Waynos, fellow Dr Who fan.

RAN and RN discussed obtaining HMS Hermes as a second RAN Fleet Carrier in the 1960s, to allow one up one down ops with HMAS Melbourne.

Didnt happen.

Following the 1982 Falklands War, the UK Government changed its mind about the sale of HMS Invincible (nee HMAS Australia). But with HMS Illustrious releiving her in the South Atlantic, and HMS Ark Royal about to commence trials, HMS Hermes was about to become surplus.

So the UK MoD offerred the Aus DoD a deal. We could cheap lease HMS Hermes (with an option to buy cheap) while the UK Shipyards built another Invincible to commission as HMAS Australia in 1988-90.

The Fraser Liberal Government asked for time to think about it, as they also had the option of building a modified Iwo Jima in a US Yard. With a March 5 election in 1983 they deferred the decision until after the election.

But they lost it, and on 14 March 1983 the Hawke ALP Government canned the replacement.

HMS Hermes was then sold to the Indian Navy by the UK MoD.

I read a lot.

posted on Oct, 6 2004 @ 06:46 PM
Heres the Hermes version. If it got to that stage, the Australian and NZ government get wind of coup plans in Fiji several days early. The new Fiji government is not in a position to do anything with the loyalty of Police and Army in Question and the ethnic population and introduced Indians evenly split. It is even too dangerous to confront the plotters.

The ADF is put on alert. A NZ Company Group is flown into Sydney to join the understrength 3RAR and its supporting elements as they embark upon HMAS Hermes. Her ASW helecopters are landed, as RAAF UH-1s and Army Kiowas arrive. As HMAS Hermes and her Escorts prepare steam from Sydney at full speed for Fiji, the AOR HMAS Success get a 48 hour jump on the group. Hastily equiped RAAF & RNZAF C-130Hs with extra fuel tanks stage to an airbase in NZ, where they are joined by Australian and NZ SAS on stand-by. Orions of both Airforces begin to conduct long range reconisance missions in the vicinity of the islands. A pair of NZ Frigates prepare to join the RAN enroute.

The Australian and NZ Governments issue a joint communique that they are preparing to conduct an excercise involving the co-operation of the Australian New Zealand and Fijian Defence Forces. The exercise simulates a major civil disturbance and a threat to expat nationals, with task group "ANZAC" being dispatched to to aid the Fijian Government and military. It tests the short notice response of all the Defence Forces concerned, and its duration is to be "flexible". The announcement is accompanied by blanket coverage of the non covert side of preparations.

The Fijian Government is aware of the purpose of the exercise, and FDF chiefs are quietly informed of whats going on, to allow them a face saving out. They have gone to Staff College in Oz and NZ and they know the cost of forcing the issue in a shoot out between Fijian troops and ADF/NZ Forces.

Task Group ANZAC arrives in Fijian Waters off Suva the following week. Fijian soldiers, unawares of the coup plot, look forward to the unexpected excercise with thier Australian and NZ counterparts.

Hermes LCMs and the Army helecopters begin the process of unloading personnel and supplies, as RAN Harriers patrol overhead. The frigates HMAS Derwent and HMNZS Waitako, armed with twin 4.5" lay at anchor offshore at Suva, within view of the docks where Fijis Naval Force of patrol boats lay alongside, as other navy ships circle the Hermes and Success, or patrol the other islands. Soldiers of 3 RAR/NZ begin to fan out from the port to begin thier patrol exercises, alonside Fijian DF and Police personnel, unawares what was in the offing. On both sides only a relative few senior people were aware of what may have happened. ANZACs would have been informed enroute if the Fiji Colonels had proceeded with thier plans.

At the Airport, C-130s and RAAF 707s begin to arrive with additional personnel and equipment from Oz and NZ. Inconspicious in thier numbers are teams of Aussie and NZ SAS, like those now on Protective Details for the Fiji Government, or escorting the Fijian senior officers and thier men to a briefing with the Australian Head of the Mission.

By the end of next week, HMAS Tobruk and two leased commercial vessels should arrive dockside to offload the balance of the groups heavy equiment. By then, some three to four thousand Australian and NZ defence personnel are established ashore, working with the FDF and Police with thier new chiefs.

It is a scenario that the ADF, NZDF and Regional DFs have practiced several times at Jervis Bay in the three years since Hermes joined the fleet. Media representatives are shown around the activity and are impressed. It is a peaceful exercise that could not even have been planned independently without the HMAS Hermes.

Hopefully, when it eventually comes out what has been narrowly averted in Fiji, the general public will have a new appreciation of the benefits of operating a carrier, and other regional neighbours will feel more secure and assured.

Remember this is all hypothetical. It never happened because the Hawke government spent over a billion dollars building itself a new house instead.

Whats would have been more valuable I wonder?

Remember. Fiji, Bouganville, PNG, Solomon Islands. We are doing damage control, because we are not equiped to be pro-active.

posted on Oct, 6 2004 @ 07:01 PM
I also have way too much time on my hands.

So HMAS Hermes proves her worth. The Government may have even considered keeping her in service alongside HMAS Australia for the one up one down option, until a second new carrier could be funded (Kind of like the HMS Ocean joining the RN in the late 90s)

The question has to be asked. If the Fiji scenario came off the way its presented, would there ever have even been any need for her to be called out to cruise off the beach in Bouganville, PNG and the Solomons when the first signs of problems and strife came up all those years ago. Would Fiji have happened. The Fiji Colonels were nominally smart. The expected reaction of Australia and NZ must have been considered, along with what we were capable of doing.

With Hermes and her capabilties, we would have had significant Regional hitting weight and influence, diplomatically.

In reality, in was zip. In Hermes world, and given a more engaged and interested attitude in Government that was lacking at the time the irony would probably have been that the question never came up, and there would have continued that eternal argument "why do we need an aircraft carrier?"

posted on Oct, 6 2004 @ 07:36 PM
Before anyone says "Hindsight is 20/20" I would like to say that in 1983 I was twelve days shy of my 15th birthday when the cancellation announcement was written.

I wrote two letters. One to my local paper, and one to the Minister, Department of Defence.

Essentially I said apart from the prestige the carrier flagship brought to the RAN and Australia amongst its regional neighbours, a carrier allows Australia to demonstrate through regional disaster relief and stability interventions its interest and capabilities within the region.

Operating a carrier, its escort and support ships meant jobs and security, for the personnel who manned them, the contractors who maintained and provisioned them, the yard workers (Australian and British) who built them, and the small business owners and employees who sold goods and services to thier families.

Its the insurance policy you only miss when you dont have it.

(This has been my view vis Defence issues all my life, especially today)

Never mind the fact my childhood ambitions to be head of the ADF through a Naval fast jet pilots career path had just been scuttled!

One didnt get published, and the other didnt get a reply.

There were supporters and detractors of the decision. The press published obituaries sorrowing the loss. Pro Labour Journos praised it, and letters both informed and otherwise, took sides, mainly in favour.

Retired senior RAN officers put the view it was a mistake. Serving RAN Officers took thier new ministers advice and remained apolitical and silent in public, although some did their best to convince the Government it was a mistake privately.

It was all to no avail of course. One of the reasons the ALP lost the 1995 election was because of its perceived arrogrance towards the public. For some of us, they were displaying that from day one.

posted on Oct, 6 2004 @ 08:14 PM
In 1974 Cyclone Tracy struck Darwin in the far North on Christmas Eve. The town was flattened, without power, running water, sanitation, light and communications. Facilities at the airport and harbour were devastated. The few roads into the area were cut off for hundreds of miles. 60,000 people needed assistance and to be evacuated. Dozens were dead, and hundreds injured. It was said everybody was homeless.

Black n white TV images showed people rummaging and lining up for emergency supplies, and the remanants of Christmas strewn all around.

The ADF was praised for its efforts, especially the RAN and RAAF.

But one key criticism, that has been raised many times since then until recently, was that the one purpose equiped ship in the RAN that was configured to deal with the crisis had been decommissioned and stripped the previous year. That was the Fast Amphibious Transport HMAS Sydney.

It was raised again in 1983 with the ALP decision not to get a carrier replacement. HMS Hermes was similarily equiped, but larger and more capable. It was possible her replacement would be fitted out with the same capabilities.

There have been dozens of incidents in the region since where thier capabilities would have been welcome and appreciated, and would have garnered Australia much and frequent international respect and appreciation. It is diplomatic gold.

Several planeloads of aid are soon gone, thier airlifters seen breifly if at all by more than a handful of people. Ground personnel tend to be swallowed up in the crowd, but a large aviation ship of 20-30,000 tonnes sailing into harbour, loaded with stores,and numbers of helecopters and craft able to bring them ashore across devestated docks and beaches is never forgotten. If the ship can keep station offshore and ride out bad weather for days on end it can boost local morale to know its there. If that ship is capable of co-ordinating that effort and taking dozens or hundreds of casualties and medical emergencies and giving them initial care....

Even our LSH and two LPAs are limited in thier capabilities, especially in airlift. And they are so overworked that a seaborne releif effort today might be led by a spearheaded by an ill equiped frigate.

posted on Oct, 6 2004 @ 09:01 PM
Its other value is in evacuation.

The people on Rabaul, a major island to the east of PNG has an active volcano. It has erupted in the past, and in WW2 the allies hoped it would erupt like Krakatoa, destroying the Japanese ships anchored there. The locals live in the main settlement, Rabaul township built on the islands only harbour, and thier link to the outside world. There are two active peaks around the town and its airstrip, the harbour its self the caloundra of an ancient volcanic peak.

The land routes are jungle tracks and take you past the volcanos to get out. In the most recent eruptions in the 1990s people had to take to these to escape - and wait there to return. The airport was put out of action, ash thwarting fixed wing ops. There are very basic port facilities and few boats.

Given past events, the town may one day be wiped out by an eruption. Why do people live there? Its home. You might as well ask someone why they live in Naples, Italy.

The blessing is there are usually signs, although sometimes they can be ignored or turn out to be false alarms.

Why would a RAN Carrier help? We are the nearest major nation in this region. HMAS Tobruk is too slow,and with HMA Ships Kanimbla and Manoora comparitively small and under equiped by themselves to evacuate several thousand people. Tobruk can operate one helo and ship a couple of LCMs. The others can ship three helos but only operate one at a time. Total lift of all three ships is maybe 800 people. 2000 overloaded tops.....and do you want to be overloaded in waters around a volcano.

HMAS Hermes, or her replacement in the fictional world, are fast and big by local standards. Dashing from Brisbane or Sydney at 25-27kn, with Army helecopters flying out to her as she headed up the coast could take on 20-30 lifters and nothing else, while her air group of Harriers and ASW birds flies ashore. Her and any other relief ships could sit offshore, while running a relay of LCM, LCVPs, and boats evacuating people, while the helecopters relay a dozen at a time lifting 200 people per lift. If HMS Hermes could carry 800-1000 RM Commandos to war, then couldnt she carry 2-3000 evacuees to safety?

Likewise a future 27000t Multi Role Carrier could do the same job.

More likely for this evacuation scenario would be any one of a dozen or more island Nations in our region in the aftermath of a Hurricane. there have been several incidents in the last decade alone where people were stranded for days or weeks until a suitable commercial vessel could be found available for charter.

In the mid 1990s the PNG Coastline was struck by a Tsuami. It was relative harmless except in an isolated low lying bay area, where the tidal wave was magnified. It wiped out five thousand or more locals. Survivors at the fringes needed help. Fresh water sources were contaminated with seawater and dead bodies of villagers and animals, disease was a major risk, and the relief efforts and evacuations were hampered by the isolation and devestation.

If your ship is operating on the West Coast or Flag waving in the Indian ocean, then its abilities to load up and fly off thousands of tonnes of relief supplies and treat masses of casualties in disaster prone places like Bangladesh is a godsend.

A ship like Hermes or her replacement, or a potential future Multirole Carrier are of major value. Getting by and making due and doing your best shouldnt cut it when you are capable of fielding better.

posted on Oct, 6 2004 @ 09:42 PM
In 1999 Australia led a UN Mission to East Timor in the aftermath of a pro independence vote that triggered mass murder and destruction by pro Indonesian Militias.

When agreements were reached between the UN, INdonesia, Australia and the US, INTERFET was finally able to go through, by which time the Militias had withdrawn to the safety of Indonesian West Timor.

The personnel involved deserve nothing but praise for thier efforts and professionalism in the aftermath.

However we did not have the diplomatic and political clout to force the issue before the elections, nor did we have the sealift or immediate air support to act without US and Foreign Naval assistance, or suitable and available commercial shipping willing to take the risk.

While the UN had Indonesian permission to have Vote Monitors and unarmed UN Police in place to monitor the election's fairness and results, There was no provision or means to protect them and the East Timorese from the dreadful violence that occurred before during and immediately after the elections.

If the RAN had its own capability in that regard, and a history of its willingness for the government to use it in good causes , East Timor might not have to morn on its Independence Days. Assuming Australia had balls.

Australia could have undertaken to station ships, including HMAS Hermes or Australia (Our 1983 Revisioning of history) within sight of the capital Dilli, just outside in international waters, until additional international contingents arrived. Whilst the smaller ships could rotate to Darwin. Hermes or Australia could stay on station indefinately.

That visible reminder might have kept things peaceful. It might also have deterred the Indonesians from supporting violence.

Boeing/BAE AV-8D Sea Harrier IIs with BVRs bombs and cannon could maintain Peace CAP offshore, and "inspect " any unexpected intrusions by IndonAF aircraft (like when they buzzed INTERFET C-130 flights and P-3 Patrols)

Sea King ASW and AEW could keep an eye out.

Army /UN Observers on the ground could have alerted the Naval Force of the violence at a very early stage, with a clearly spelled out mandate and authority to helelift RRF troops ashore to deal with them, and for the Indonesians to stand clear.

A well equiped and balanced RAN operating out of Darwin, Australia could have been quick on the scene and responsive.

Instead of waiting for the US to decide it was in its interests to respond to East Timor before we did.

Did you see the images of a Tarrawa Class Amphib and her Spruance escort standing off East Timor? The local media said they didnt arrive until after the brief boarder clash between Australian and Indonesian troops. It was a reminder to our Indonesian colleagues that we had a mutual powerful freind backing the UN-Australian Op.

We accepted the political blame, but the Indonesians fired first and had had old maps that showed the boarder like 100m that a way. The Army filmed it happening. Our guys stuck to ROEs and the shooting was over in a few minutes, thankfully without casualties.

That ship provided vital communications relays we lacked, as well as additional heavy lift in the form of six USMC Sea Stallions. But she had landed her Marines, Harriers, Cobras and other hardware before she left Japan.

We were painfully aware we might have problems not only with the logistics but with the pro indonesian elements if they were not there.
We were lucky I think it happened in the Clinton era.

It was a window of opportunity where US, Australian and UN interests coincided. If the USA hadnt supported the operation, especially visually with just those two ships, the RAN would never have left port, let alone seen Australia fronting a UN mission against the militias.

A ship like Hermes or Australia, and her escorts, smaller amphibs and support ships would have been needed to act independent and pro actively on the behalf of the UN before during and after the vote.

[edit on 6-10-2004 by craigandrew]

posted on Oct, 6 2004 @ 11:00 PM
Australia is over reliant on the United States.

Ive heard people argue that we should not aqquire or maintain certain capabilities because we are a small navy, that our nation doesnt have an independent foreign policy that requires us to maintain a larger one, or that if we have any need for major support beyond our current abilities we can ask the US to back us up and provide it.

Pardon me, but bs.

I hope, and I beleive that if we are truly ever in trouble or need, the USN will be there to help. If not then my 2nd best reason for us being in Iraq and the War on Terror is up the duff.

But its not the USN of WW2 and its not even Ronald Reagans 600 ship Navy of the 1980s. We cannot expect and rely on the chance that the Americans will have a ship they are prepared to reprioritise to support our RAN.

Or to support us in something which they think is only in thier marginal interests, or worse against them. They couldnt come straight out and provide physical support to the RN (ie. AORs, Sealift, Carrier Transport of helecopters) in the Falklands because Argentina was a key US ally in South America. It was limited to thier diplomatic censure.

Or the US might agree with our need to lift aid or idea to provide an large aviation ship to support a disaster relief mission.

There might be some situation, where we can act on own with a RAN carrier led naval group, that might go down better if we didnt have an "Imperialist" USN Battle Group supporting us.

The RAN acting regionally with its own small self contained carrier group isn't overkill. Dragging in the Nimitz might be seen that way.

Having a plan, a good reason to use it in a timely manner, and not going through the agony of being unable to do it with out US support is vital.

Proper use of approproiate force for acheivable goals does not necessarily mean it has to end or be aimed at violent action.

[edit on 6-10-2004 by craigandrew]

[edit on 6-10-2004 by craigandrew]

[edit on 6-10-2004 by craigandrew]

[edit on 6-10-2004 by craigandrew]

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