Further Thoughts On The Forgotten Map...
by Marg Hutton
29 August 2002
When Crikey published a 'whistleblowing' article by a member of the P3 Orion squadron earlier this month, both he and the whistleblower thought that they were blowing the whistle on the 'conspiracists' at SIEVX.com.
What they didn't realise is that they were inadvertently blowing the whistle on the SIEVX cover story - for the whistleblower leaked one highly significant piece of information about Operation Relex surveillance - that is that all vessels located during P3 surveillance flights were photographed for identification purposes.
When Air Commodore Philip Byrne, the Commander of the P3 Orion Squadron, appeared before the Senate Select Committee as its final witness on 30 July he did not mention this as he was not directly asked about it. He did however confirm that photographs were taken of all the SIEVs (CMI 2166). This further validates the Crikey whistleblower info because logic dictates that the Orions would photograph every Indonesian fishing vessel in order to ensure that they had photographed every SIEV.
Earlier in the week we wrote about how it appears almost certain that one of the fishing boats noted by the P3 surveillance flight in the north west sector of the surveillance zone on the morning that the SIEVX survivors were rescued is the Indah Jaya Makmur, the Indonesian fishing boat skippered by Captain Imam that plucked the survivors from the water.
We sent this article to Jacinta Collins, one of the three Labor senators on the Select Committee. She replied within hours that she would follow this up and seek to obtain this possible new material with questions 'on notice'.
If there are photos that do indeed show the rescue vessel, either on the way to the survivors or returning to Jakarta with the survivors aboard, then this will corroborate the rescue co-ordinates obtained by DATELINE that the captain of the second fishing boat gave to the Harbour Master at Sunda Kelapa Port. This is particularly important because Raydon Gates - the man tasked by Defence to review all internal intelligence concerning SIEVX - chose to denigrate and misrepresent this evidence in the paper he released to the CMI Inquiry on 4 July:
Some public comment has inaccurately suggested that it is possible to say with some precision where SIEV X foundered (eg media 'expert' analysis of figures reportedly provided by the Harbour Master at Sunda Kelapa port in north Jakarta)...In the absence of positional data from either SIEV 'X' itself or the fishing boats that rescued the survivors, Defence can only speculate as to where the vessel foundered.
Gates completely missed the fact that DATELINE had provided positional data from the fishing boats!
Given Raydon Gates' carelessness with regard to the DATELINE evidence, it seems entirely possible that he was unaware of the potential significance of the information contained in the aerial surveillance maps of 20 October. Gates' review was released two weeks prior to the Dateline program that provided details of the boat that rescued the survivors. Defence was not aware that Dateline had found Captain Imam and his boat when they were drawing up the maps. Nor had Crikey yet published the piece by the P3 Orion Whistleblower.
But now that all of this information is in the public arena it is possible to read a lot more from the maps.
We know the position where Captain Imam found the survivors.
We know that the rescue was completed sometime around midday when Captain Imam began his journey back to Jakarta.
We know that the P3 flight on the morning of the rescue achieved 100% coverage of the vital north-west sector where the rescue occured.
We know that the track separation of that flight was very tight indicating a very high probability that all vessels in the sector were located and identified .
We know that the Orions photograph every boat located in their surveillance zone.
We know that the two closest fishing boats to the rescue co-ordinates were photographed by the Orion at 8.14am and 8.19am.
We don't know what was happening to the SIEVX survivors during this time but I am haunted by this awful image: It is Saturday morning, 20 October last year. 44 people are bobbing around in the ocean, close to exhaustion after having spent 17 hours in the water clinging to pieces of their shipwrecked boat. They are surrounded by hundreds of floating corpses - family and friends who drowned when the ship foundered the day before. Captain Imam, the skipper of the Indah Jaya Makmur, is steering towards them and will shortly rescue them. Overhead, one of our P3 Orions (equipped with an Air Sea Rescue Kit, consisting of 2 life rafts strung together with marine supply containers) slowly tracks past Captain Imam's boat, taking photos in order to ensure that he is not attempting to smuggle people to Australia...
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