In a letter in today's Age, the Executive Director of the Australian Defence Association, Neil James, rebuts claims made in the newspaper yesterday that the Navy bears some responsibility for the SIEVX tragedy.
The curious thing about James' letter is that while he states that SIEVX went down in 'Indonesian waters' he actually gives a location - ie 'about 70 kilometres south of Java' - which is in international waters and within the Operation Relex border protection surveillance zone!
This figure is similar to one Don Greenlees gave in an article in the Australian back in 2001 soon after the sinking.
Earlier this year we had Ministers Vanstone and Ellison making public statements (which they later retracted) that SIEVX sank in 'international waters'. Now we have the Executive Director of a Defence watchdog organisation saying the same thing. Government Ministers and Directors of organisations associated with Australian Defence don't pull figures out of thin air. It is apparent that far from the sinking position being 'unknown' and at best 'speculative' as claimed by the Defence Review of Intelligence on SIEVX, there exists authoritative data held by the government (persuasive enough to initially convince Ellison, Vanstone and James of its provenance) that shows that SIEVX sank exactly where we claim it sank - inside the Operation Relex surveillance zone.
It will be interesting to see if Neil James follows Vanstone and Ellison's lead and retracts or amends his statement regarding the sinking location.