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Tuesday, 28 April 1987
Page: 1932

(Question No. 1638)

Senator Sanders asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 23 February 1987:

(1) Is the report in `Aviation Week and Space Technology' of 22 December 1986 (p. 28) that an Australian officer is on the staff of the Third Fleet command ship, the USS Coronado, correct; if so, what are the duties of the Australian officer, and do those duties include operations planning for the United States Navy?

Senator Gareth Evans —The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) As part of the RAN/USN exchange programme, a Royal Australian Naval officer serves on the staff of the Commander Third Fleet and a United States officer serves in the RAN Tactical School. The Australian officer is currently embarked in the USS Coronado as a member of COMTHIRDFLT embarked staff. The officer's duties consist of assisting in the planning development and conduct of Third Fleet exercises. He assists in the writing of reports and operations orders and in monitoring progress of units working up to operational readiness. He functions as the co-ordinator of training requirements and associated logistics for Third Fleet and allied Naval units visiting the mid-Pacific area, and in this role carries much of the responsibility for planning the biennial RIMPAC exercise. Finally, he maintains liaison with Australian commands on matters of mutual interest.

From the description of the officer's duties it can be seen that he does become involved in operational planning for the United States Navy, but primarily in the training role. As an embarked member of the staff of USS Coronado he is involved in day to day operations associated with maintaining the operational efficiency of units in company.