[Extracted from House Hansard, 15 June 2005]

Australian Customs Service: Boarding Manual
(Question No. 1214)

Mr McClelland (Barton) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Justice and Customs, in writing, on 10 May 2005:

Has the Australian Customs Service developed a boarding guide or manual to guide officers in respect of suspect illegal entry vessels; if so, what procedures and processes are set out in that guide or manual?

Mr Ruddock (Berowra-Attorney-General)-The Minister for Justice and Customs has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

The primary document for at sea boarding activities conducted by Customs surface maritime assets is entitled Operational Safety and General Instructions. This document sets out procedures and guidelines for generic boardings, be they against a suspected illegal entry vessel (SIEV), fishing vessel or any other craft at sea. Procedures and guidelines in this document are augmented or modified by other instructions, if necessary, when Customs vessels of either the National Marine Unit or the Southern Oceans Patrol and Response Unit, are engaged in specific activities or operations. This is the case with National Marine Unit vessels, operating in support of the Australian Defence Force led Operation RELEX II - Customs Operation EDDINGTON - the aim of which is to detect and deter the arrival of SIEVs.

The Customs Operation Order for Operation EDDINGTON, is a classified document. Broadly, it sets out procedures when encountering and boarding SIEVs such as:

  • Area of Operations, including surveillance and response priorities;
  • coordination of assets involved;
  • response actions when a SIEV is detected or intercepted;
    • on the high seas
    • within the 24 nautical mile Contiguous Zone
    • within the 12 nautical mile Territorial Sea
  • Use of Force;
  • communication and reporting requirements;
  • Safety of Life at Sea assistance;
  • on scene command responsibility; and
  • search and rescue

X-URL: http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/reps/dailys/dr150605.pdf

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