A commanding officer of an Australian warship has been dismissed as an investigation opens into alleged “unacceptable behavior” involving alcohol, which is banned when Navy personnel are at sea.
- Defense says there is ‘no room for unacceptable behavior or conduct’
- Military sources told ABC the case involved “excessive alcohol consumption” at sea.
- Navy regulations prohibit the consumption of alcohol at sea
The defense confirmed the senior officer is no longer in command of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ship, but is disclosing no further details about it due to confidentiality obligations.
“There is no place for unacceptable behavior or conduct within Defence,” a Defense spokesperson told the ABC in response to a series of questions.
“All allegations of unacceptable behavior are taken very seriously and are fully investigated using due process,” the spokesperson added.
Military sources say the captain is being investigated over allegations of “excessive drinking” while at sea, as well as an incident at an international event that caused a “embarrassment” in front of his US Navy counterparts.
“The RAN is trying to hide this whole episode and the usual transfer of command procedures have been ignored,” says a source close to the matter.
Navy chief Vice Admiral Mark Hammond told ABC he would not comment on the incident but insisted his organization was handling it appropriately.
“We expect a lot from our command teams, we have a high performance culture, a strong reporting culture and a culture of accountability,” he said.
“For reasons of confidentiality and due to ongoing activities, I will not make any further comments.”
Under current Navy regulations, alcohol consumption at sea is restricted to special occasions such as ANZAC Day, where sailors, but not officers, are given a limited “beer”.
In 2018, the ABC revealed that the Navy had launched a crackdown on excessive drinking during shore leave, following “incidents involving a small number of Navy personnel in overseas ports.
Two years earlier, the ABC revealed that the Navy sidelined the commanding officer of one of its largest ships while it investigated a complaint made on board by a female officer.