Australian Navy chief demands end to booze culture

Russ Crane warns of mandatory breath-tests and curfews on shore leave.

Last Updated: Mar 24, 2011, 15:27 PM IST

Sydney: Australian Navy Chief Vice-Admiral Russ Crane on Thursday demanded an end to the service`s booze culture, warning of mandatory breath-tests and curfews on shore leave.

The tough message, in a video address shown across the Navy, followed a 400-page report released this year on sordid behaviour involving HMAS Success in 2009.

The report examined allegations of a "predatory culture" and drunken misconduct on the ship, with sailors accused of maintaining a list known as The Ledger which put dollar values on sexual conquests with female colleagues.

The claims covered a period between March and May 2009 when the ship designed to supply naval combat units with fuel, ammunition, food and stores while at sea, was deployed to the Philippines, China, Hong Kong and Singapore.

"The misuse and abuse of alcohol is a common element throughout the report," said Crane.

"The Navy is not immune from the alcohol problems which confront this nation, especially when it comes to binge drinking, but we must hold ourselves to higher standard.”

"Every one of us needs to step up here and address the debilitating effects of alcohol and drug abuse."

Crane threatened to ban alcohol consumption during port visits while overseas, and to increase shore patrols and introduce curfews in Australia.

While random breath testing already takes place, he said he could make it mandatory.

"I will be looking to improve our testing procedures in all Royal Australian Navy ships and establishments," he said.

"If we need to test 100 percent of our people, then this will be done."

With the report into the Success raising issues about discipline and the treatment of women, the vice-admiral vowed that attitudes must change.

"This report showed alcohol-fuelled actively led to inappropriate behaviour, especially targeted at women," he said.

"This is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. I cannot accept a situation where women in the workplace or on ships feel threatened by their male counterparts.”

"This type of behaviour must and will be eradicated."

Bureau Report