The australian naval institute

Journal ol the Australian Naval Institute

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Journal ol the Australian Naval Institute — Pago 33

Bear in mind that the Soviet Union does not have a Merchant Marine structured, organ­ised and directed by the free-wheeling Wes­tern understanding of the term The Soviets possess the most modern, fastest-growing Navy in the world. The Soviet High Command looks upon all units of the Merchant Fleet, both passenger and cargo, as indispensable unit extensions of the Navy. I have colour photo­graphs which clearly show otherwise ordinary Soviet cargo vessels in merchant livery replen­ishing major naval units on the high seas. Only in the last couple of years, the Fedor Shalyapin was involved in a mid-ocean nocturnal contact with a submarine whilst a cn_ise was in pro­gress. I personally witnessed, through a tele­scope, the surfacing and subsequent submer­sion of a Whisky Long Bin' class submarine about fifteen miles off Collaroy beach eight years ago Operation Okean in 1976 (and its successors) was designed to demonstrate the operational and replenishment world-wide capabilities of the entire Soviet marine struc­ture

Even whilst acknowledging the obvious massive intrusions of international airline operations, one cannot help but notice the al­most total disappearance from Australia of

passenger line operations in any capacity. The identity of the principal cruising operator in this part of the world was hardly a mystery: until its operator invaded Afghanistan, that is. Now their passenger vessels are forbidden the use of Australian ports until further notice

The traditional Western way lies in equal trading opportunities for all with corporate be­haviour governed by more-or-less mutually agreed upon legislation. If we continue to allow our shipping operations to wither through lack of judiciously-conceived and quickly-applied legislation, then our ships will rapidly become useless in themselves and we will be unable to purchase their replacements through lack of trade-earned moneys. Even now we are unable to economically build replacements, and our skilled shipbuilding talents are dispersing. Our active merchant fleet is a shadow of its former self, and we could be in real trouble in a future conflict as a result. If the west is either unable or unwilling, through the apathy engendered through 35 years of questionable peace' to control or contain Soviet mercantile expansion, then we will be gambling with our long-term national security. And when gambling, it's not nice to know that the Soviets, with their record, provide the only game in town.
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