Australian Navy vessels may be crewed by civilians

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The Australian Navy is evaluating the possibility of crewing some of its vessels with a mix of civilian and military or even all civilian crews, according to Australian Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith.

The Royal Australian Navy will work with other Federal agencies and Australia’s maritime industry to examine the feasibility of alternate crewing options to better utilise Navy’s uniformed workforce and take advantage of skills and experience in the civilian shipping industry, the Australian ministry of defence said.

Mixed crewing arrangements already operate successfully in the Royal Navy in the United Kingdom and across the United States Government’s Transport Command in support of the United States Navy.

These alternate arrangements could apply to selected support ships such as the HMAS Choules once the first Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Dock has been delivered, and the Navy’s auxiliary tanker, HMAS Sirius.

It will not apply to Navy’s warships, including frigates, Air Warfare Destroyers, Landing Helicopter Docks and patrol boats, Smith’s office said.

The study may also provide a complementary strategy to re-invigorate Australia’s merchant shipping industry. This is in line with the series of reforms announced by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, on 9 September this year, under the Government initiative “Stronger Shipping for a Stronger Australia”.