Australian personnel face further action over Indonesian incursions

Three more defence personnel and one Customs officer face action over incursions into Indonesian waters by Australian ships engaged in Operation Sovereign Borders.


That follows earlier action against those aboard the vessels, with one captain sacked from his command.

The latest move follows an inquiry into conduct by headquarters personnel which contributed to the incursions.

“As a result of the inquiries, administrative action has been implemented against three Defence and one Australian Customs and Border Protection Service personnel attached to headquarter elements,” defence and Customs said in a joint statement.

That could include administrative sanctions and formal counselling.

Six incursions, involving seven ships, occurred during Operation Sovereign Borders operations between December 2013 and January 2014.

Neither the government or Defence have revealed full details of the incidents but it’s believed they occurred when pushing back asylum seekers.

An internal inquiry found they were inadvertent breaches which stemmed from incorrect calculation of territorial boundaries.

In April, the navy announced that one ship’s captain had lost his command, another would be administratively sanctioned while five others faced counselling about their responsibility to ensure their vessels stayed out of Indonesian territorial waters.

The Defence and Customs statement said inquiries into headquarters personnel disclosed that conduct of Customs officers serving aboard Customs vessels required further investigation.

That revealed that a Customs vessel crewman identified potential navigation problems which might lead to the vessel entering Indonesian waters.

That was brought to the attention of the vessel commander but the crewman failed to press his concerns up the chain of command, resulting in a breach of Indonesian waters. He’s now facing code of conduct action.