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Tuesday, 23 August 1983
Page: 94

Question No. 160


Mr Jacobi asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 17 May 1983:

(1) Will he bring up to date the information given by his predecessor in answer to Question No. 3824 (Hansard, 17 March 1982, pages 1111-12) concerning (a) the movement of Soviet naval ships in the Indian Ocean, (b) the movement of Soviet naval ships in the North, West and South Pacific and (c) the movement of Soviet naval vessels in the (i) Persian Gulf, (ii) Gulf of Oman, (iii) Gulf of Aden, ( iv) Arabian Sea, (v) Red Sea, (vi) Eastern Mediterranean and (vii) Black Sea.

(2) Further to his predecessor's answers to Questions Nos 4641 (Hansard, 24 August 1982, pages 879-80) and 2193 (Hansard, 18 August 1982, pages 678-9), can he now say whether significant development for Soviet naval purposes has occurred at Dahlak Island, Aden, Socotra or at the Bay of Turbah.

(3) Will he take steps, in accordance with recommendation 14 of the 1976 report of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence entitled 'The Middle East- Focal Point of Conflict', to appoint military attaches to appropriate diplomatic missions in the Middle East, in view of the geo-political and strategic importance of the Gulf of Hormuz, Bab-el-Mandeb, the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf, within the Middle East.


Mr Scholes — The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) (a) Monthly class/day figures of Soviet naval and naval-associated ships which operated in the Indian Ocean during the period 1st January 1982-30 April 1983 are shown in the following table.

SOVIET NAVAL ACTIVITY INDIAN OCEAN (SHIP DAYS) JANUARY 1982-APRIL 1983

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr

Aircraft Carrier

Kiev

9 31 17

Cruisers

Kara

31 28 31 9 31 17 29 30 Kresta

31 30 31 30 31 31 30 31

Destroyers

Kashin

8 29 30

Frigates

Krivak

62 56 62 40 58 40 31 31 30 43 30 12 18 30

Submarines

Charlie

31 28 18 11 30 31 31 7 Echo II

5 31 30 31 30 5 22 31 30 Victor

58 51 62 68 61 31 21 Foxtrot

62 56 60 4 11 30 11

Mine Sweepers

T-58

31 28 31 30 18 22 31 30 31 30 31 11 Natya

10 31 39 31 31 30 31 59 43 31 28 31 38

Landing Ships

Alligator

62 60 80 60 58 30 31 31 30 31 59 43 31 28 31 55 Ropucha

12 30 5 26 21

Auxiliaries

Tugs

29 28 31 30 31 30 20 25 30 31 30 60 62 33 60 60 Barracks Ships

23 23 Oilers

56 37 31 26 77 30 31 31 30 50 42 44 17 8 27 30 Repair Ships

31 28 31 30 31 30 31 35 49 31 34 57 31 28 60 32 Sub Tenders

31 8 28 36 31 30 31 31 38 56 30 31 31 44 39 30 Tankers

62 55 60 62 66 67 55 30 48 60 62 42 28 54 60 Miscellaneous

244 225 232 255 346 314 255 192 201 154 120 149 170 215 268 231

Others

Oceangraphic

62 56 59 30 39 4 31 30 31 27 31 Hydrographic

51 56 94 110 124 109 85 37 48 71 60 62 74 50 62 52 Int Collectors

31 28 49 33 39 73 86 33 30 56 39 42 31 28 31 30

(1) (b) Information on the movement of Soviet naval ships in the North and West Pacific is provided primarily by friendly nations on the understanding that its composition is protected. In the South Pacific, in October 1982, a Soviet Naval research ship and a FOXTROT-class submarine were noted west of Tahiti. This group was also seen east of New Zealand in December.

(1) (c) It is not possible to provide a detailed analysis of Soviet naval activity specifically within the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. However, the information provided on Indian Ocean activity in the above table, because of the geography of the area, takes in naval ship movements in these peripheral waters. Soviet naval movements in the East Mediterranean and the Black Sea, being of less direct strategic concern to Australia, are not analysed in detail.

(2) The information given in response to Question No. 4641 and 2193 about developments at Dahlak Island, Aden, Socotra Island and the Bay of Turbah remains current.

(3) The question of whether military attaches should be appointed to appropriate diplomatic missions in the Middle East is kept under review. Given the requirement for restraint in the growth of overseas staff, such appointments muct be carefully evaluated against existing and foreseen representational requirements in terms of the whole range of functions attaches are appointed to carry out, and relative priorities established.

While the general strategic significance of the Middle East area is appreciated , permanent representation there does not have a level of priority that would warrant appointment of resident military attaches at present.