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Wednesday, 15 December 1993
Page: 4670

Senator WEST —My question is directed to the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel. I note that the HMAS Newcastle, the last of the FFG-7 class, was commissioned into service last weekend. Can the minister inform the Senate how these ships and the Anzac frigates will affect the working and living conditions for those personnel serving on them?

Senator FAULKNER —HMAS Newcastle is the latest addition to the Royal Australian Navy fleet and was commissioned in Newcastle last Saturday. Newcastle is the sixth and last FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry class to be purchased by the navy and was built by Transfield Shipbuilding in Victoria.

  The FFG-7 class introduced mess decks with separate recreational and sleeping areas. This meant that watch-keeping personnel were less likely to be disturbed during normal working hours. The FFG-7 has a more capable airconditioning plant than older ships, and this results in much improved crew efficiency, particularly in tropical regions. Passageways which run the length of the ship provide access to most areas without passing through accommodation and living areas. The FFG-7 airconditioning vents are designed to reduce ambient noise, while an ergonomic central office layout improves working conditions in the ship.

  The Anzac ship living and working conditions will be equal, or superior, to conditions in other Royal Australian Navy combatants. The Anzac ship has, on average, 40 per cent more habitable space per person than exists on board an FFG-7.

Senator Boswell —Very interesting!

Senator FAULKNER —I am glad that Senator Boswell is interested; I wish some of his colleagues were. Accommodation will be provided for 163 personnel on an Anzac frigate. Minor modifications will be made to increase the privacy of the crew. These will be complete by the time the HMAS Anzac is commissioned in early 1996.

  The commanding officer and heads of departments will have single cabins with ensuite facilities. The FFG-7 class ships have set a new and higher standard of both working and living conditions for the Royal Australian Navy, which will be maintained and further improved with the delivery of the Anzac ships from 1996.