Journal of the australian naval institute inc



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PART ONE — 1907-1918

by Wayne Gobert

The Beginning

On 3 July 1882 Captain William Henry Hall was appointed as the RN's first supervisor of Naval intelligence He was tasked with collect­ing, collating and assessing information on foreign fleets The four basic elements of the intelligence cycle; collecting, collating, assess­ing and disseminating remain with us today The RAN inherited its intelligence traditions from these beginnings

In 1901 the Commonwealth assumed responsibility for defence but intelligence in both services was totally neglected This was a reflection of the treatment that intelligence had received in the UK However, the Boer War vividly demonstrated the folly of considering intelligence to be a part time pursuit' As Intelligence was so poorly understood Com­manders rarely consulted or believed in their Intelligence staffs and chose to rely on "instinct". In 1904 The Esher Report in Britain proposed a new system of administration of the armed services. The primary recommen­dation of the report was the creation of service boards Under this restructuring the First Members became responsible for intelligence matters •' The Esher Report was received in Australia with the usual degree of indecision by the government Finally on 2 December 1907 Lt Col J W McCay VD became the first Chief of Army Intelligence and the Army Intelligence Corps was raised. The First Naval Member RADM Creswell became responsible for Naval Intelligence

Little is officially available concerning Creswell's activities in these early days

However he did commence close liaison between Customs and the RAN and by 1911 he had established a network of coastwatchers around Australia The major role of the coast-watchers was to monitor German merchant shipping 3 Creswell also emphasized caution to Japan and recommended a coastwatcher service in Torres Strait However the weight of responsibility upon the First Naval member was overwhelming, combining almost all func­tions except personnel, finance and engineer­ing In 1912 Commander Walter Thnng was appointed as assistant to the First Naval Mem­ber and given responsibility for intelligence.

Thnng came to the RAN from the RN He had been an outstanding officer earmarked for a successful career Unfortunately he became involved in the Berestord-Fisher feud that divided the RN in the 1890s and 1900's He was closely identified with the Beresford faction and when Fisher achieved ascendency as First Sea Lord he became frustrated with his rather reduced chances of promotion in 1911 he retired from the active list of the RN as a Commander In 1912 he came to Australia

Immediately Creswell and Thnng developed an excellent rapport that allowed Thnng much leeway in intelligence and war plans Thnng envisaged a two way flow ol intelligence between the RAN and RN, the RN did not. The RN considered the Australian role to be predominantly reporting and passing German merchant ship positions to London for com­pilation of a global picture What the Admiralty considered Australia required, they would provide without prompting This one way attitude from the UK was typified by the British

THE AUTHOR

LCOR Wayno Gobert Is s GLEX Int. presently completing lull time. Ihe Master ot Delence Studies at ADFA and was Involved in the creation ol the mt qualification career path and Ihe planning ol our first RAN Inlelllgence Course.

Journal of Ihe Australian Naval inslttuln Nuviutiiu HU Payi III

reply to a 1905 request by Australia tor information during the Russo-Japanese War "requests for information were firmly rejected on the grounds that they had never been supplied to Colonial Officers'"b However displaying an independence of mind that would continually re-emerge Thring pushed Creswell for greater Australian partic­ipation in intelligence matters In spite of Admiralty opposition Creswell arranged for an ongoing exchange of intelligence between the RN's China Squadron in Hong Kong and the RAN Concurrently he developed links between customs and business interests in the Pacilic region.

In 1913 Thring and Brig Gen Gordon, Chief of the Australian General Staff embarked on the first comprehensive strategical survey of Australia The group toured far and wide on 9 July 1913. Thring delivered his "Report on The Naval Defence of Australia" This remar­kable document clearly described Australia's Defence needs Its three central propositions were that Japan was Australia's major enemy, the RN could not be relied upon to supply a Fleet for Australia's defence and that present defence policy, the Henderson Report' was inadequate6 These prophetic words highlight Thring s perception

"The squadron (RN) stationed In Australian

waters has always been a holiday squadron

There is now a possibility that an enemy

can strike a deadly blow before help can

come Geographically, the position of

Australia with respect to Asia and the Pacific

may be compared to that of England to the

North of Europe the danger of a descent

by the Japanese, in their own good time, is

a very real danger almost amounting to a

certainty, unless adequate steps are taken

tor defence against it British ships

in the case of a European war would be

largely occupied with matters other than the

defence of Australia."'

Thring was the first major Australian defence

thinker to suggest that Australia would have

to provide its own defence, unaided He urged

defence of the islands immediately to the north

and northern Australia itself He conceded that

the RAN couldn't meet a Japanese mam fleet

on the High Seas, but he considered that lighl

forces and raiding behind Japanese lines of

communications would provide a serious

deterrent

World War One

In 1914 the War Room activated in Lonsdale Street. Melbourne Thring became Director of War Plans The Intelligence staff consisted of

Captain AW Jose (later official war historian), one Lieutenant Commander and two lieuten­ants RAN intelligence had three basic tasks, informing the Naval board on regional matters, passing information to the UK and counter­intelligence Information was obtained from coastwatchers. custom officers, the China Station, the British Minister in Peking, the Canadian Naval Staff and the RAN wireless office 3

Upon the outbreak of war RAN intelligence had activated a wireless interception cell at Victoria Barracks. Melbourne A civilian instructor from the RAN College. Geelong, Frederick William Wheatley. was appointed to oversee wireless interception Wheatley was a graduate of Oxford and Flinders Universities and was fluent in German This unit was to have a significant impact on the war

Wireless interception has become a funda­mental tool m intelligence collection and remains so to the present day Signals Intel­ligence (SIGINT) is concerned with the interception and analysis of electronic trans­missions It can be further divided into Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) and Commun­ications Intelligence (COMINT) ELINT is predominantly concerned with the nature of a signal by either locating its source or identifying the transmission platform Analysis of particular radars is typical of ELINT activity

COMINT is aimed at analysing a communica­tions signal and deducing what is actually being communicated This art is known as Traffic Analysis (TA) and is intimately linked with cryptography or codes

On 11 August 1914 the RAN placed the defences of Port Phillip on an apparently peacetime footing This ruse was based upon the hope that a German merchant ship may enter the port and be seized Late on the afternoon of the 11th the Black German Line HOBART entered Port Phillip and came to anchor off Observatory Point Immediately Captain Richardson RAN. the District Naval Officer and Sub-Lieutenant Veale RANR rowed to ship with civilian clothes covering their uniforms Upon boarding Capt Richardson produced a pistol and declared the ship a prize of war 9 Twenty RANR sailors boarded HOBART and she proceeded to Port Mel­bourne That evening Richardson hid himself in the Master's cabin He anticipated that the Master would attempt to destioy his hidden code book that evening Richardson followed the German to a secret compartment in an inner cabin and obtained the code book at gunpoint 'n The documents captured included Instructions to Shipping as To Their Conduct

1 Ihfl A>,*IIJ»lirtfl NxvHI II

In A Naval War', The Secret Appendix' and the HVB Handelsverkehrsbuch' Code "

The code book was immediately forwarded to the wireless room at Navy Office At that time the German Navy was using 3 codes the HVB. SKM and VB The HVB was used for supply communications, zeppelins. small ships and merchant ships The VB Verkehrsbuch' was used by warships overseas and embassies. SKM Signalbuch der Kaiserlichen Marine' was used by ma|or units Significantly the RAN had also captured the first wartime key to HVB thus allowing cryptographers to follow changes in the HVB code '< The HVB reached London in October 1914 and was immediately utilized by ROOM 40, the Australian wireless room's counterpart

Meanwhile the RAN had begun plotting the location of the German Pacific Squadron This squadron consisted of modern cruisers based on the German colony of Tsing Tsao in China They had left Nagasaki on 23 June and their whereabouts were unknown The only vessels in the Pacific capable of matching them were the battleships of the Japanese fleet or HMAS AUSTRALIA With trade accelerated, the invasion of German New Guinea imminent and troop transports being readied to proceed to Europe, locating them was vital

From the first day of war the RAN wireless room began intercepting transmissions from SCHARNHORST. NURNBERG. GEIER and PLANET" The wireless rooms direction finding (DF) experts placed the squadron in the vicinity of the Marianas/Caroline Islands and an intercepted transmission read: "From Yap to SCHARNHORST — 'You must proceed to the Marianne Islands' [sic]" '4 However this vital intelligence was ignored on the grounds of "instinct" and the search for the Germans centred on the Rabaul area ,s The German squadron was in fact in the Marianas and escaped eastwards towards Cape Horn, with the exception of EMOEN which detached to raid independently

Whilst DF action was being undertaken against the Germans Wheatley continued his cryptographic attack on HVB The earlier HVB messages, according to Wheatley, were of little value and by the end of October the key had changed Meanwhile the German Squadron proceeded eastwards towards South America The British Naval Attache in Montevideo had been intercepting signal traffic from the squadron but was unable to decrypt them In late October the Admiralty advised him to cable transcripts to the RAN intelligence organiza­tion ,fi Wheatley claimed that after a long day he was inspired after the 1914 Melbourne Cup

and broke the HVB code at 1800 on November 3, 1914." Wheatley immediately signalled the squadron's itinerary through the Straits of Magellan to the Admiralty On 8 December the squadron was intercepted and destroyed in the Battle of The Falkland Islands by HM Ships INVINCIBLE and INFLEXIBLE On 6 January 1915 HMAS AUSTRALIA sunk the supply ship ELINORE WOHRMANNott Brazil based upon intercepted positions

Later the RN was to claim that Wheatley was
wrong in his recollection of the itinerary ot the
Germans and that luck played a major role in
the Battle of The Falkland Islands However,
what is significant is that the breaking of HVB
was to compromise German positions for
several months to come, for although the code
was a merchant code it was used by warships
and U-Boats to arrange re-supply The Admir­
alty requested 200 copies of the code which
the RAN duly produced, despatching 100 to
the Admiralty. 50 to the America and West
Indies Station and 50 to the RAN and China
Stations '
» The RN's Room 40 was obsessed
by secrecy and the Director of Naval Intelli­
gence was not appointed controller until 1917
In contrast the RAN's organization was
controlled by Thring and shared information
in a spirit of international co-operation RAN
intelligence had contributed one of the most
vital intelligence coups of the war In James
Goldnck's words:
"In terms of naval operations in home (le
UK) waters HVB was the most significant
capture a mass of seemingly routine and
unimportant messages disclosed informa­
tion of great value it was often the HVB
signals which gave warning of the sorties
ot the Hoch See Flotte" "
For the remainder of the War the RAN
SIGINT unit continued operations in an area
that became quieter as the war's focus shitted
However the RAN continued to advise the
Admiralty and support decryption operations
In early November an encrypted signal was
despatched to Wheatley for decryption. The
Germans had changed the HVB code three
times and Wheatley continued to break it
Wheatley decrypted the following communi­
cation intercepted in Capetown


"From Windhoek to [unknown station). With my authority a free corps of Boers and Germans under Andnes de Wet are marching together with a commando of rebel Boers on Upmgton I have promised the rebels recognition by The Imperial Government |ie German] as a war waging power, recognition of independence contingent on (the forma­tion of a) future Boer Free State

Journal ot the AuBlralian Nhvbi Institute Novembei hi.

RAN intelligence also carried out two other functions in addition to SIGINT and coast-watching The first was the censorship and conlrol of all wireless telegraphy into Australia The second was internal surveillance and security in concert with the Counter Espionage Bureau

There is little evidence of clandestine radio activity in Australia during WW1 The only documented case was a rumour that a German Mission station at Beagle Bay possessed an illegal transmitter However this was later determined to be untrue •" The lack of underground wireless activity was possibly the result of the lack of activity in the region, the weakness of the period's transmitters and German inability to influence the region to any large degree

In 1915 counter-intelligence was entrusted to The Counter-Espionage Bureau (CEB) This organization was headed by George Steward who also served as Secretary to The Governor-General. Sir Ronald Munro-Ferguson Ste­ward's Deputy was Major HE Jones, in each state a Commonwealth Traffic Officer'-' headed local operations The CEB was an un­usual organization closely linked to MI5-'' It was a product of the British Foreign Office and worked uncomfortably within the triumvirate of The Governor-General, Prime Minister and Steward

In mid-1916 friction between the RAN and the CEB came to a head over the suspected sabotage of the new cruiser HMAS BRISBANE (being constructed at Cockatoo Island) The RAN became increasingly unhappy with the activities of the State Police and the CEB in curbing a series of accidents It was alleged that the International Workers Of The World 11 WW or Wobblies) had penetrated the Union movement and were delaying the ship's completion The IWW were an internationalist workers/peace group who were under suspi­cion On 7 November 1916 the ship's starboard dynamo was damaged when its oil filter was discovered to be filled with cotton waste2* Eventually the ship sailed for The Mediterra­nean (12 December 1916), but in the process a police agent was shot, the IWW premises raided and closed. IWW members arrested and reports received from 'secret service agents' that the RAN were unaware of

In late 1916 Creswell. unhappy with Steward and what he described as the CEB's "ineffi­ciency"-"1 created his own counter-intelligence service This unit was headed by a reserve law lecturer. J G Latham Latham would later serve as Attorney-General. Leader of The Nationalist Party. External Affairs Industry Minister,

Deputy PM, Chief Justice of The High Court and Australia's first Ambassador to Japan (1940-41)

LCDR Latham attacked his task enthusiasti­cally and by 1917 his political intelligence unit had expanded to most states They pursued Communists and IWW members but there is little evidence of any clandestine activities In July 1917 SS CUMBERLAND was sunk off Gabo Island after an explosion The IWW and Communists were suspected of planting a delayed action explosive in the hold Theories ranged from mines in cattle carcasses, to Russian agents and fanatic seamen pushing mines from a passing merchantman (SS TASMANIC) The prime suspect was a seaman named Masurer He was suspected because he had claimed that he could speak five languages and owned a camera The CEB conducted its own investigation and deter­mined the ship was sunk by a loose Australian mine The RAN vehemently denied this On 11 September it was announced by the RAN that the ship was probably sunk by a mine from the German raider WOLF

The other major focus of Latham's interest were the Japanese in Australia The political intelligence unit constantly warned of threats from Australia's "Ally" and maintained sur­veillance operations against Consular and Military Personnel in Sydney and on Thursday Island Operations against the Japanese were based upon an assumption that Australia s Ally was moving south by its acquisition of the former German colonies"' The Japanese Naval Attache in Sydney was shadowed^8 and the sale of charts to Japanese closely controlled M

On Anzac Day 1918. LCDR Latham sailed onboard SS NIAGRA as chief adviser to Navy Minister Joseph Cook and PM W M Hughes at The Versailles Conference In London he attempted to widen Australia's sources of intelligence from The Admiralty and Foreign Office "' At Versailles he played a maior role in Hughes' vision of the "New Pacific" " In Latham's absence and as the war wound down the counter-intelligence unit slowly dis­appeared

Conclusion

In 1988 the RAN finally recognized the requirement for permanent organization of Intelligence for personnel other than RANR officers Yet the RAN Intelligence Service has a rich and significant history that has been totally ignored both within and outside of Australia This ignorance is best summed up

Page 4? Joutn4laMhaAus1rolt4PNftvollPslin.li! Nuvnmtwi 89

by an internationally renowned intelligence writer. Christopher Andrew "Even in 1914, however, there was still no intelligence officer in the Flagship of the Australian Squadron the squadron was ordered to destroy the German wireless station at Rabaul in New Guinea, failed to find Rabaul, and returned without complet­ing its mission" 32

No doubt the ancestors of the RANR sailors who died at Bita Paka and destroyed the German wireless station at Rabaul would be offended by Mr Andrew's spurious statement. The RAN Intelligence Service effectively carried out its reporting. Signals Intelligence and Counter-intelligence roles throughout WW1 Furthermore the Australian SIGINT unit was responsible for directly contributing to the destruction of more enemy shipping than the RAN surface fleet This efficiency was laid on a base of independent, regional vision stem­ming from outstanding Naval intelligence officers such as Thring. Jose and Latham

Footnotes

t J Haswell Spies And Spymasters. p 109

  1. CD Cuulthard-Clark, TheCiluen General-Stall, p9

  2. Cmdr J M Wilkins. Naval Intelligence i I

  3. Hurt, p 2

  4. (..milliard-Clark up at, p 13

  5. W Thring, Report on The Defence ol Australia p3

  6. Ibid, p 4

  7. Wilkins. op cit p4

  8. S Veale. Autobiographic Recollections p 17




  1. tor - il

  2. Capl A W Jose Official History Ot Australia In the Wat Vol IX The RAN, p 46

  3. P Beesly Room 40. p 74

  4. Jose, op cit. p 9

  5. Ibid, p 10

  6. toccil




  1. Beesly op cit p 74

  2. Ibid, p 75

  3. Local

  4. J V Goldrrck. The King s Ships Were At Sea. p i 77

  5. Jose, op cit. p 46

  6. r Cain. A History Ot Political Surveillance In Australia p79

,'.' ti"' title Commonwealth Traffic Officii! was used as
a Iron! lor CEB officers


  1. Cain, op cit. p 2

  2. Ibid, plit

  3. Ibid, p 87

  4. Ibid p 89

  5. R Thornton, Invaluable Ally Ol Imminent Aggressor Journal Ol Australian Studies No 12. ljune 19831. p 18

  6. See AVM 50. 6-2. Japanese Naval Alia. I I

  7. See AVM SO. 8-5. Sale Ol Charts To Japanese'

30 P Edwards. Prime Ministers And Diplomats p Sit
u
ibid, p.51

32 C Andrew Her Ma/esly's Secret Srr > fi • pi!

Bibliography

C Andrew Her Ma/eslys Secret Service. (Viking. New Vi irk.

1986) P Beesley, Room 40 British Naval Intelligence 1014 18

(Harnish Hamilton. London. 1982) F- Cam, The Origins Ol Political Surveillance In Australia

(Angus And Robertson. Sydney. 1983) C Coullhard-Clark. The Ciluen General Stall TheAICtOO?

1914, (Mildary Historical Society, Canberra. 19761 P Edwards Prime Ministers And Diplomats. (Onloid

University Press New York, 1983) J Goidnck The kings Ships Were At Sea I US Naval

Inslilule, Annapolis. 1984) J Haswell, Spies Anrt Spymaslers (Thames and Hudson

I .ridon. 1977) Japanese Naval Attache'. AWM 50-6-2 Capl AW Jose. Official History Ot Australia In !"• Wat

Vol IX TheRAN, lAngus and Robertson Sydney. 1943) Sale Ot Charts To Japanese. AWM 50-8-5 R Thornton Invaluable Ally or Imminenl Aggressor.

Auslraiia and Japanese Naval Assistance 191 ;

Journal Ol Australian Studies INo 12, June 1983) Cmdr S Veale, Autobiographical Recollections Ol A Naval

Reserve Otticer. (Unpublished Paper Melbourne 19861 Cmdr J Wilkins, Naval Intelligence I Unpublished Papm

Melbourne. 1981)

Journal or the Australian Naval institute Novnnihw »9 Pagi i.




* i -'.
BOOK REVIEWS

"ARMS CONTROL AT SEA"

By Rear Admiral JR. Hill RN (Rel)

Published by Roulledge. Chapman and Hall 11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE

History may record the 1980s as a decade when the superpowers effectively moved towards practical limitations which could be placed upon the nuclear arms build-up since World War II, with reductions in arsenals and ground forces in Europe and the USSR featur­ing predominantly Analysts of the sub|ect may argues about the eventual success of achieve­ments since Ronald Reagan became US Presi­dent in 1980 but there will be few who would doubt that emphasis has been upon arms limit­ations, mainly for ground forces and missiles

In Arms Control at Sea" Admiral Hill focuses attention upon the other side of this coin — arms control instead of limitations — and in the maritime environment

In a relatively short book {229 pages) he takes the reader through the philosophical differences of the two approaches, postulates arms control objectives, and draws upon naval history to evaluate our achievement thus far Currently Editor of the Naval Review the Admiral looks at past maritime control mea­sures and provides a critical examination of the objectives of maritime power and the concepts of disarmament, peace zones, parity, verification, and peaceful co-existence

Among other things "Arms Control at Sea" covers such diverse aspects as strategic arms control, tactical nuclear weapons at sea, naval force structures, and future possibilities It examines these subjects professionally, com­petently, and analytically

For some, these last points may highlight difficulties for this book and this was so in my case I found it hard to generate entfiusiasm because its approach is in many respects, staff

paper oriented with each chapter an entity complete with copious notes The reference bibliography is staggering for a book of this size and the author draws upon it at every turn This tends to increase the reader's frustration because ihe narrative does not flow but lends to abruptly jump from one topic to another, with each fact painstakingly cross referenced One short chapter has 80 reference notes

The subject does not lend itself to light treatment however, notwithstanding my com­ments above, "Arms Control at Sea" is a remarkably comprehensive coverage of a difficult problem Admiral Hill avoids taking a detailed stand on the dilemma of arms control v limitations in each of his nchosen areas of study but does touch upon this in his con­clusion Another chapter or two at the end to tackle these opposing viewpoints might have better satisfied the anticipation generated at the beginning but perhaps the Admiral sees this as material for a separate publication

Lest my comments appear to devalue this book I must finish by espousing its cause Arms control seeks to improve security for partic­ipating nations and its achievement at sea involves the willing concurrence of each navy that is a party to it Admiral Hill examines the problems and difficulties with great skill and presents clear proposals for their resolution "Arms Control at Sea" would be a valuable addition to the library of anyone seeking to improve their knowledge of this complex and vitally important naval matter

Reviewer Commodore Alan Brecht

Continued onp,.,-

I1..j.-44 I-, .rri.ti ,,1 Hicr Au*Tfnl ijn N«»al Insllluto NoVOTlBtt H''

CONTROL OP PIRACY AND MARITIME TERRORISM

by

Tun Hwa Ko

Paper prepared tor the Sixth International Conference October 11-14, 1988 - Melbourne. Australia

Foreword

As recently as July 12, 1988, a 370-ton Greek ship, CITY of POROS with 471 passengers on board was attacked by terrorists, as the ship headed for Trocadero Marina in the Paleo Faliron seaside suburb returning from a day­long three island cruise ' Greek government sources said the terrorists were two men and a woman armed with automatic weapons and grenades They had been photographed during the attack An announcement by the Greek Ministry of the Merchant Marine said at least 9 people died and 98 were injured Only two of the dead had been identified Antonis Demaizis. the ship's 45-year-old first mate, and a Danish tourist. 33-year-old Karl Johan Grabas The other bodies had been burned beyond recognition and mutilated by shrapnel wounds In the confusion, the unidentified attackers escaped in a waiting speedboat.

The above-mentioned story was an extract from a report ol CHINA POST, a newspaper published in Taipei No further account of the incident can be obtained in Taipei for analytical studies on the case, except tor the impression that this was |ust another inhumane and criminal act by agents of terrorism at sea

This kind ot maritime terrorism has occurred in other areas, such as in the Red Sea, Persian Gulf. Lebanon, Central America and in Western Sahara where the Polisano guerillas have preyed on trawlers and coasters7 In Philippine waters, there have been several cases of Taiwanese fishermen encountering awful atrocities committed by Filipino groups who were motivated as much by greed as by political pretensions A few of them have been caughl and tried in courts

In February 1981. disguised as harbour pilots, an IRA sguad boarded the 500-ton coaster NELLIE M as she entered Lough Foyle in Ulster (North Ireland) The crew was forced

to take to boats, after which the terrorists placed explosives and sank the ship A year later they repeated the operation on the SAINT BEDAN In 1985, a Spanish naval patrol vessel was attacked by terrorists with one crew killed and others wounded. In 1986, a Soviet factory ship was attacked She fired back

The ACHILLE LAURO affair might be a better known case remembered by the general public On 7 October, 1985. Arab terrorists hijacked the Italian cruise ship, ACHILLE LAURO, which had more than five hundred crew members and passengers, including many Americans on board Italy's immediate response was to carry out a diplomatic effort with the Arab world, backed by a naval task force fully prepared, were diplomacy to fail, to launch an open-sea rescue mission At Italy's request, Syria had not granted permission to the terrorists to bring the ACHILLE LAURO into one of its ports The Governments in Cyprus and Tunisia had denied the terrorists in a similar manner Yasir Arafat, whatever may have been his earlier involvement in the hijacking itself, agreed with Rome to enlist other leaders of PLO to persuade the terrorists on board to release the ship and the hostages in exchange for their own safe passage lo freedom Italy had also lined up Egypt to provide its territory for support, and to guarantee that the agreement between Italy and the terrorists would be carried out by both parties People might still remember vividly the rest of the story with an American passenger, named Klinghoffer, murdered by the terrorists and thrown into the Mediterranean Sea along with his wheelchair Four terrorists were released to the Egyptian authorities who transported them by civil airliner to freedom

But. the airliner was intercepted by the U S military and was forced to land at Sigonnella, a NATO air base located in Sicily American


Joornul r>l Ihi* Auslr.iiiiin N.iv.ii UisMuN- NonmlMr

P»0« 45

intelligence found that Abu Abbas, a notorious and dangerous leader of a PLO terrorist group was on board the Egyptian airliner The US Government asked the Italian authorities to detain him The Italian judge who looked into the matter found that insufficient grounds existed to hold anyone except the four terrorists and released Abu Abbas

There is no need here to retell the ACHILLE LAURO affair and the storming diplomatic relations between Rom and Washington created by the incident Whal we want to say here is only that the terrorism is being felt also at sea It deserves our attention and studies

Difficulties of Committing Terrorism at Sea

In our series of International Conferences tor the studies of SLOC, we discussed in Singapore in 1985 the problems ol Piracy and Anti-piracy 3 We gave a good account of the history and causes of pnacy Statistics on the loss of life and property by pirates from 1980-B3 were given We also showed the tactics developed and employed by the pirates In our previous conference, we had also suggested some anti-piracy measures, and urged for more and closer international co-operation to combat age-old international crimes. Today, here in Melbourne. I am assigned to discuss piracy and terrorism at sea, I'd like to point out that there are some similarities in basic techniques employed by both pirates and terrorists Because their primary targets are the same sea-going ships, passengers and crew which they have to get control of.

Without going into too much legal techni­cality on the definitions of pirates and terrorists, we could, for practical purposes, say that pirates are after money and other material gams while the terrorists are pursuing their political objectives But this is not a clear cut line of demarcation between the two There may be cases of piracy with political ingre­dients, and terrorists who seek material gam as well We are here concerned not so much about their classifications but about how they plan, operate, and attain their objectives

First, let us look at the terrorists at sea Their job seems to be more difficult than would be on land because of the following conditions

(1) The primary objects of hijackers are passengers It is the value of human life which they are trying to exploit, to make use of in blackmail There are more and more pas­sengers who travel by air, and fewer pas­sengers who can afford the luxury of ocean liners in cost and in time In a busy international airporl. there may be 2 to 3 airplanes landing

or taking off within a few minutes, but. one would have to wait for weeks to see a passenger liner sailing out of a harbour The infrequent voyages may not be ideal opportunities for the terrorist's own political timing schedule

  1. Most cargo ships have no passengers on board There are some cargo-passenger ships which carry cargo and passengers. But the passengers are usually not-so-important' ones, and they are only a few in number Cargo does not have much political significance and cannot be held as hostage

  2. On board an air transport, the pas­sengers are all sitting in one straight cabin It is easy to control them with one or two armed hijackers Crew and passengers on board a ship are scattered all over the ship on many decks and in numerous compartments II would take a great deal of manpower to keep them at bay Most of the compartments are watertight, which can be closed firmly to block passage It is difficult to reach and to go through all the compartments If one or two hijackers dare going down below the decks and to the lower compartments, the hijackers themselves may get lost, or out-numbered and get captured or killed

  3. No ship is identical to another, even il they are of the same class or type A Boeing 747 is precisely the same as another 747, in its controlling system and in all other arran­gements But no two ships are arranged in the same way It is difficult to find out how to control a ship before boarding, and it would take time to find out many things after boarding An aircraft is piloted trom the cockpit A ship has many alternative steering stations where the ship can be commandeered and navigated It is difficult for hijackers to command a ship

  4. The speed of ships is slow The cruising speed of a modern ship, on average, would amount lo 20-25 knots Air hijackers can force the pilots of a airliner to fly trom one place to another, and perhaps, back to the first place, according to their by minute wishes But a ship cannot do that even fully under the control of hijackers. Ships take a long time to go from one place to another Sea and air rescue teams can intercept hijacked ships easily While a hijacked ship is steaming at sea. the hijackers cannot get away quickly tor their own freedom

  5. A small number of hijackers can sneak into an airport somehow with small weapons But. to attack a ship and its crew, would require a much greater number of men and weapons It would require a ship, perhaps, to intercept the target ship, or the terrorists would have to disguise themselves as passengers Either way would cause more attention than in an

Page 46 Journal Ol Mt> Ausl'ji.at Na*m Imtilute November B9

air hijacking On board an aircraft, armed guards would hesitate to shoot, because the bullet could damage the fuselage and cause a pressure problem in the aircraft in flight That is why studies are being done using slow-velocity bullets to hurt the hijackers by staying inside their bodies but not to penetrate through them On board a ship, a severe gun battle can take place without sinking the ship There have been some cases of mutiny in which different gun positions with 40mm and larger calibres were turned round and shot against each other between the contesting parties on the same ship It is not easy for hijackers fo overpower a crew, if the crew is armed or there are armed guards. They could put up a fight after being hijacked, if (hey were trained for it

(7) One objective of terrorism is to generate some sensational head line news, or more important, TV camera coverage so it can be seen by the general public A hand grenade exploding in a crowded downtown area will draw a great number of news reporters to the scene But there would be no on-the-spot witnesses to a gun battle on board a ship at sea TV men and by-standers would not be available until the ship came into harbour Some trouble-makers have found that a non­violent demonstration in a crowded city can create as much attention as a bloddy hijacking Therefore, in order to make a certain political view felt, terrorist attack at sea is not the best method It would only be worth it if they were to use some more drastic measures at sea to maximize the threat and publicity It is not entirely impossible for terrorists to use some nuclear explosive devices, radioactive wea­pons, or to attack some nuclear facilities and installations Because nuclear power stations and water for cooling, many nuclear reactors are near seasides within the reach of terrorists at the sea

Assume that a ship steered by some terrorists has managed to come into a harbour and anchor The ship suddenly announces that she has some sort of nuclear device on board, and the terrorists threaten to detonate it it their political demands are not met in time, or if the ship is boarded by any rescue force It is not entirely impossible for some terrorists to steal 9 nuclear device, or even to crudely make one It might not be a regular bomb It can be just some sort of radioactive material illegally obtained from a medical centre or research outfit With what they claim to have on board the ship, they are capable of harming society The amount of expertise needed to construct a simple device for dispersing radioactive material is no more than that derived from

college physics, chemistry and engineering If they are short of this, they could |ust make some empty bluff without actually possessing any nuclear device, so long as they could convince people they have something The other option for them is to attack some offshore oil facility

Operations of Terrorists at Sea

There are no commonly known rules of operation by terrorists at sea Methods employed by terrorists vary from case to case But. nevertheless, due to the nature of the game and maritime environment, the accompanying flow chart might be used to describe the logical steps adopted by terrorists We have reason to believe that terrorists are well-chosen, daring and smart men or women while the master-minds behind them are certainly highly intelligent and cunning Their operations might be generalized and categorized into logical sequences of (A) analysis, (B) planning. (C) preparation, and (D) execution, as shown in the chart

In (A), the terrorists have to determine their objective, that is, precisely what they want to achieve They must keep the objective firmly in their minds as they choose their physical targets, the ships and passengers that they want to attack They have to obtain information about the physical targets as well as the geography and the intended route of the ships Then, they have to analyze the suitability, acceptability and feasibility of the targets and the whole operation If all of these turn up to be favourable, then the said target is chosen and the decision is made The next step is (B), planning how to do it Choose the right men or women for action Provide suitable equip­ment and weapons Decide the time and place, and the way of approaching the target Make an alternate plan in case things turn out differently Also make plans tor escaping (with or without hostages) The next step would be (C), preparation Make every man or woman ready Train them and rehearse the operation plan, evaluate the outcome of the rehearsal, and make necessary changes in the plan Put the action team on stand-by, waiting for the order of execution The final step is, of course, the (D) execution If all conditions are as expected, execute the operation if not, make changes

Here, we have to point out one more thing The operation does not end at step (C) In fact, the hijack begins at step (C) when the action team has to fight, negotiate and conclude the whole drama

Journal <>1 the Aualralian Naval Inslitid.- 'J. ,. u,i„„ Ha Page 4t

Flow Chart I Operations of Terrorists

Flow Chart II Counter Terrorism










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