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November 10, 2011
2011-12 Navy surf rowers' league
starts in Queensland
THE 2011-12 Navy Australian Surf Rowers' League
(ASRL) Series was officially launched on November
6 at Surfers Paradise with more than 60 crews from
surf life saving clubs across Queensland pounding
the waves. By nurturing the sport, Navy provides the
ASRL with the necessary resources to help them
recruit life savers. The Navy ASRL series comprises
23 events held on some of the premier beaches
around Australia from November 2011 to February
2012. The racing culminates in the Navy Australian
Open from February 10-12, 2012, at Stockton
CHIEF of Navy VADM Ray Griggs says
reports on the state of morale among
Navy's patrol boat crews on border protec-
tion operations are incorrect.
He also believes a report in The Australian
newspaper on November 2 -- Morale crisis on
navy asylum patrol boats -- shows a misunder-
standing of how Navy maintains and operates
its Armidale-class patrol boats and crews.
"These officers and sailors demonstrate
great commitment in a relentless mission,"
VADM Griggs said.
"They are doing an extremely important
job exceptionally well every day of the year.
My first priority is the safety and welfare of
Navy people and I would not allow them to
operate in an environment that they are ill pre-
pared for or that is unsafe.
"As with any machinery operating in the
harsh marine environment, each patrol boat
will require regular maintenance. However, it
needs to be emphasised that a patrol boat will
not be sent to sea or remain under way if it
would in any way compromise safety."
The Australian's article makes statements
about "critical skills waivers". This system of
waivers has been in place since 2003 and coin-
cided with the introduction of the formal tech-
nical regulatory system in the Navy. A waiver
will only be granted by the Chief Staff Officer
Engineering within Fleet Headquarters.
CN also praised all Navy people assigned
to the border protection mission.
The Commander of the Patrol Boat Force,
CAPT Nick Stoker, who is responsible for
operating and maintaining the Armidale fleet,
also acknowledged the challenges of this mis-
"The ability to continue to provide the
required levels of availability is testament to
the commitment of our people and all those
who support the delivery of the capability,"
CAPT Stoker said.
"We are achieving this through careful
management of the operating cycles of each of
the 14 patrol boats and the 21 crews.
"Planned major maintenance activity peri-
ods are, and remain, a routine element of these
cycles. At any one time there may be up to five
patrol boats undergoing scheduled mainte-
nance. This allows us to operate the number of
boats required for the mission."
Chief of Navy corrects the record on patrol boat capability
FORMER and current sailors from 817
Squadron will have a chance to share stories
at a reunion weekend from November 11-13 at
The reunion is being held in the countdown to
the squadron's decommissioning after almost half a
century of continuous service.
The squadron has flown Westland Wessex and
Sea King helicopters since commissioning in 1963.
The Senior Sailors' and Engineers' Reunion will
kick off the activities at the Bomaderry RSL Club
on November 11.
A dinner event will be held on the following
night for current and former officers, senior sailors
and their partners at the Albatross Wardroom.
The Sea Kings will take their final flight on
Launching from Nowra, the Sea Kings will fly
to Canberra and then return to their home base of
The squadron's personnel will also pause for a
memorial on December 15 to remember those who
died while serving.
Chief of Navy VADM Ray Griggs will over-
see the 817 SQN Decommissioning Parade on
The parade, starting at 10am at Albatross, will
be open to the public.
Navy News will publish a special liftout to mark
the squadron's decommissioning in the December 8
edition of the newspaper.
-- Simon Gladman
DEPARTING: 817 SQN and its Sea King helicop-
ters are decommissioning in December.
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