HMAS Success: Australia sailors 'were drunk, predatory'

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HMAS Success (image courtesy Australian Defence Department)
Image caption,
A "culture of silence" protected the perpetrators aboard HMAS Success, the report found

Sailors aboard an Australian naval ship engaged in "predatory" behaviour and drunken misconduct, a report has found.

The report, by retired judge Roger Gyles, examined the behaviour of sailors aboard the ship HMAS Success between March and May 2009.

He found no evidence of a rumoured "sex ledger" awarding cash prizes for sexual conquests, but did find a bounty had been placed on one female colleague.

Defence chiefs have vowed to eradicate such behaviour.

The report examined the conduct of sailors aboard the HMAS Success as it docked at ports in the Philippines, China, Hong Kong and Singapore, supplying naval combat units with fuel, ammunition, food and stores.

in Hong Kong, the report found, sailors had collapsed from excessive alcohol consumption and at a bar in Qingdao, China, sailors had had public sex while others watched.

Two bars in Manila were damaged.

At the core of the bad behaviour was a group of senior "marine technical" (MT) sailors in the engine room.


"There was evidence of predatory sexual behaviour" among parts of the crew, Mr Gyles reported.

"A combination of a culture of silence and mutual protection among MT sailors and intimidation and fear of repercussions on the part of those contemplating complaints against MT sailors provided a powerful cover against exposure of poor behaviour," he said.

While no evidence was found of a notorious "sex ledger" of conquests, "the existence of competitions to have sex with nominated females, as organised in the engine room, had been part of the folklore on Success since at least 2004", wrote Mr Gyles.

The report makes no recommendation for action against individual sailors, though the navy is reported to have carried out its own internal audit which does identify individual miscreants for punishment.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith said such bad behaviour would not be tolerated and a plan had been developed to try to ensure such incidents could not be repeated.

Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston blamed the breakdown on a lack of leadership.

"We are absolutely seized with a need to cut out this cancer that we found on Success," he said.

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