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Tuesday, 6 September 1983
Page: 441

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 answer to questions No. 4641 (Hansard, 24 August 1982, pages 879-80), and No. 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 —This answer replaces the answer previously supplied to the honourable member on 23 June 1983:

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

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

Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May June July Aug.

Aircraft Carrier

Kiev . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cruisers

Kara 31 28 31 . . . . . . . . . . Kresta . . . . 31 30 31 30 31 31 Destroyers

Kashin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Frigates

Krivak 62 56 62 40 58 40 31 31 Submarines

Charlie 31 28 18 . . . . . . . . . . Echo II . . 5 31 30 31 30 5 . . Victor . . . . 8 51 62 68 61 31 Foxtrot 62 56 60 4 . . . . . . . . Mine sweepers

T-58 31 28 31 30 18 . . 22 31 Natya . . . . . . 10 31 39 31 31 Landing ships

Alligator 62 60 80 60 58 30 31 31 Ropucha . . . . . . . . 12 30 5 26 Auxiliaries

Tugs 29 28 31 30 31 30 20 25 Barracks ship . . . . . . . . 23 23 . . . . Oilers 56 37 31 26 77 30 31 31 Repair Ships 31 28 31 30 31 30 31 35 Sub Tenders 31 8 28 36 31 30 31 31 Tankers 62 . . 55 60 62 66 67 55 Miscellaneous 244 225 232 255 346 314 255 192 Others

Oceanographic 62 56 59 . . 30 39 4 31 Hydrographic 51 56 94 110 124 109 85 37 Int Collectors 31 28 49 33 39 73 86 33

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

Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec. Jan Feb. Mar. Apr.

Aircraft Carrier

Kiev . . . . 9 31 17 . . . . . . Cruisers

Kara . . . . 9 31 17 . . 29 30 Kresta 30 31 . . . . . . . . . . . . Destroyers

Kashin . . . . . . . . . . 8 29 30 Frigates

Krivak 30 43 30 12 . . . . 18 30 Submarines

Charlie . . 11 30 31 31 7 . . . . Echo II . . . . . . . . . . 22 31 30 Victor 21 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Foxtrot . . 11 30 11 . . . . . . . . Mine sweepers

T-58 30 31 30 31 11 . . . . . . Natya 30 31 59 43 31 28 31 38 Landing ships

Alligator 30 31 59 43 31 28 31 55 Ropucha 21 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Auxiliaries

Tugs 30 31 30 60 62 33 60 60 Barracks ship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oilers 30 50 42 44 17 8 17 30 Repair Ships 49 31 34 57 31 28 60 32 Sub Tenders 38 56 30 31 31 44 39 30 Tankers 30 48 60 62 42 28 54 60 Miscellaneous 201 154 120 149 170 215 268 231 Others

Oceanographic 30 31 27 . . . . . . . . 31 Hydrographic 48 71 60 62 74 50 62 52 Int Collectors 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 geopraphy 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 your Questions 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 must 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.

Note: The information contained in the above answer has been drawn from unclassified sources.