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April 28, 2011
I AM writing to you with regard to
Navy News, Volume 54, No.5.
Time for action? Then I am taking
action on behalf of the officers and
sailors serving or who have previous-
ly served in HMAS Success and are
weary of seeing and hearing her name
slandered around not only the public
media, but in our very own newspaper.
I have served in Success for more
than 12 months. In this time I have
witnessed the aftermath of the COI
and the effect it has had on the officers
and sailors who where involved in the
investigation. I support the require-
ment for culture change, but I believe
this objective can be met without the
constant mention of Success.
Every time I turn on the TV, the
media has something new to add about
how badly the hierarchy dealt with the
alleged incidents on board. This great-
ly disappoints me as there are many
fine members of all ranks serving in
Success. This is demoralising for peo-
ple on board or who have served [in
the ship before] who are simply trying
to get on with their jobs while also
attempting to maintain morale among
I believe that the coverage in both
the media and in Navy News is por-
traying Success as being a less than
appealing place to serve. I am making
no comment or suggestions regarding
the alleged "incident/s", but I believe
we need to send a message, particu-
larly to the younger generation, that
Success is a safe and fine ship and
great place to serve.
Proud to serve in Success
How easily we have highlighted
the negatives, but in the same breath
have forgotten about the hard work
and dedication that members have
shown both past and present. Some of
the officers and sailors left Australia
in August of last year and are yet to
return home. This is due to a deci-
sion to keep the ship in a foreign port
(away from friends and family) for the
duration of its twin hull refit. It would
be nice to see an article in Navy News
highlighting this, along with all the
planning that was undertaken by the
hierarchy to achieve this.
The reason I have chosen to write
to you is because there is no "50/50"
column in Navy News, no section for
people to have their say. Although
of course it would have to be heav-
ily monitored, I believe it would only
be fair. As there is mention of Navy's
Facebook page in Navy News, I would
urge your team to have a look at the
Facebook page titled "Proud to have
served in HMAS Success".
In closing, I will reiterate that I do
not condone misconduct in the ADF,
I just feel very saddened for all serv-
ing, past and present, who feel they are
not getting the opportunity to defend a
ship well loved.
I am returning to Singapore in two
weeks to bring Success back home,
along with many people who deserve
both recognition and respect. I am also
being promoted and I couldn't be more
proud to become a senior sailor on
board the so-called "ship of shame".
LSCK Melissa Ohlson
VADM Russ Crane,
Chief of Navy, responds:
I CAN understand that the ship's
company in HMAS Success feel frus-
trated by the recent publicity sur-
rounding their ship.
As you may know, I had the privi-
lege of commanding Success from
1998 to 2000. A picture of Success
proudly hangs in my office here in
Canberra and I well understand the
challenge of serving in one of our bus-
iest Fleet units.
I am well aware of the very positive
aspects of life on board. This is not
the first time that those who currently
serve in a ship have had to face the
consequences of unacceptable behav-
iour, carried out by a few of those no
longer on board.
The COI report into what occurred
during your ship's deployment to
South East Asia in 2009 makes for
sober reading. Action against some
of those named in Mr Gyles' report
is ongoing but I know you join me in
agreeing that there can be no excuses
for such behaviour.
It is also important to under-
stand that unacceptable behaviour in
Success was NOT tolerated by every-
one on board. Some personnel were so
outraged that they came forward and
reported such behaviour through their
This willingness to stand up to
improper conduct of any kind is a vital
element of the Success COI. These
members exemplify Navy's Signature
Behaviours and I congratulate them
for their courage and determination.
When most of us who are not
directly involved hear about the type
of behaviour which took place dur-
ing that deployment, it is tempting to
distance ourselves from such acts. But
we must not dismiss what occurred so
I cannot rule out that incidents of
unacceptable behaviour continue to
occur across Navy. It is vital there-
fore that we ALL take responsibility
for what comes next. We all have a role
to play in changing our culture right
across Navy. The New Generation
Navy (NGN) program and our
Signature Behaviours are tools we will
use for lasting change. I know the cur-
rent ship's company in HMAS Success
at all ranks is striving to do just that.
You should not see the COI find-
ings as a burden, but as a challenge.
Cultural change is never easy but
through NGN we will succeed and I
am confident that you and your crew-
mates will continue to assist us in this
vitally important work.
The adverse publicity will not go
away quickly but, with your help,
HMAS Success will play a key role
in rebuilding Navy's reputation as an
organisation which properly reflects
our values and those of the community
Navy News welcomes letters to the
editor. Email letters to navynews@
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