The Australian Defense Force says a number of sailors have been removed from HMAS Ballarat after allegations that crew members have been sexually assaulted with bottles and other objects.
Investigators from the Australian Defense Force Investigative Service (ADFIS) team, and an officer from the Sexual and Misconduct and Response Office, are now on board the ship
The Australian navy will not reveal why, or how many, sailors have left the ship, and will not identify them at this time. But it has confirmed that the sailors are now on mainland Australia, after landing on Christmas Island.
The Anzac-class guided missile frigate is currently taking part in border protection operations, which has delayed the initial investigation.
Channel Ten had reported allegations that members on board HMAS Ballarat had suffered anal penetration with objects including pens and water bottles as part of an initiation ritual.
A former Navy member – who identified herself as Bridget – told Channel Ten that sailors on board the ship have told her that young men are being attacked with objects including water bottles and marker pens.
Being candid, as only Australians can be, she said, “People were set upon by members and stripped off and had things essentially put in their bums.”
She added, “I think people are scared. If it happened in a normal workplace the police would be called, charges would be laid.”
The Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, says the investigators will be continuing their probe ( unfortunate phrase!) into the alleged inappropriate behavior now that they are on board.
Navy will continue to be as open and transparent about this matter as we can be, but the investigation is now at the point where the ADFIS team needs to be able to get on with the job.
As such, no further public statements regarding these allegations will be made until the investigation is complete.
I reiterate how seriously Navy takes allegations of this type and that inappropriate behavior is neither consistent with our values nor tolerated in Navy.
Of course, initiation rituals – or “hazings”as they are sometimes called – occur in a variety of groups, but the phenomenon seems more prevalent in the armed forces and universities.
Unfortunately, what originated as harmless fun, seems to have morphed into something more sinister, dangerous, and frequently includes a sexual dimension.
It will be interesting to see what the investigative “probing” discovers.