Useful Links:

IT issues on 666 ABC Canberra Drive with Keri Phillips each Monday at 5:50pm

Tom Worthington

With Tom Worthington FACS, Visiting Fellow, Department of Computer Science, Australian National University

Military Internet, 10 September 2001

This week with Alex Sloan

Photo of HMAS MANOORA  from Defence Public Affairs
The Australian troop ship HMAS Manoora last night began its journey to Papua New Guinea, with a full complement of asylum seekers on board. Independent aid agencies have credited the Australian Navy with a successful ship to ship transfer of the 433 asylum seekers... Late last night, the Norwegian freighter the Tampa, also left Australian waters headed for Singapore. From Australian troop ship sets sail to PNG with asylum seekers on board, ABC News Online, Tue, 4 Sep 2001 6:46 AEST
While there has been considerable media coverage of the operation off Christmas island has concentrated on the military hardware and personnel involved. There has been little coverage of the role communications and in particular internet technology has played in the operations.

Diagram of HMAS MANOORA from RAN

As well as accommodation for troops and a hospital the HMAS MANOORA, is equipped for communications:
In June this year HMAS MANOORA was also fitted with a suite of four state-of-the-art Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (C3I) facilities that make the ship the most capable communications platform in the Australian Fleet. From: HMAS MANOORA ARRIVES AT CHRISTMAS ISLAND, MEDIA RELEASE, The Hon. Peter Reith, MP Minister for Defence, 2 Sep 2001 MIN 334/01

Military forces use the internet technology on secure networks to conduct operations. These have been tested on ships at sea in the Tandem Thrust exercises between the U.S. and Australian Defence Forces:

On the Flight Deck of the USS Blue Ridge Rack mounted workstation
For Exercise Tandem Thrust 97 unclassified and classified TCP/IP (Internet protocol) networks were created over a Wide Area Network (WAN) which covered the exercise area, including ships at sea. This used satellite links as well as radio, landlines and Local Area Networks (LANs). Australian networks and US were joined using routers. Encryption was used to protect and separate classified and unclassified traffic. From: To The USS Blue Ridge by Helicopter, Net Traveller, Tom Worthington, 1999

There are television, e-mail, and telephone services provided on HMAS MANOORA:

The Joint Task Force Headquarters (JTFHQ) afloat capability on the Navy’s landing ship HMAS MANOORA was officially handed over ... today... It was completed on schedule in May in time for use during Exercise Tandem Thrust... As well as providing operational support, during non-operational periods the JTFHQ afloat capability can provide television, e-mail, and telephone services to the ship’s company, thereby improving quality of life aboard and consequently crew morale. From: HMAS MANOORA RECEIVES NEW WARFIGHTING COMMAND CAPABILITY, Department of Defence Media Release, 14/06/2001 Departmental 198/01

This is part of the project to build an Australian Defence Force (ADF) joint headquarters:

Headquarters Australian Theatre ... Phase 3A of JP 8001, which is still in progress, designed and installed a Joint Task Force Headquarters (JTFHQ)(Afloat) capability in the Landing Platform Amphibious (LPA) HMAS Manoora, and is developing a similar, complementary JTFHQ(Land) capability. Together the JTFHQ(Afloat) and JTFHQ(Land) capabilities comprise a single, scalable JTFHQ capable of deployment by land, sea or air, and capable of operation in either the land or sea environment. From: Defence Capability Plan 2001 - 2010 , Department of Defence

HMAS Manoora and HMAS Kanimbla have been fitted out with sufficient command and control equipment to meet Navy and Army needs in the conduct of normal amphibious operations, with limited ability to cater for the embarkation of a Joint Force Area Coordination Cell. ...

  • 1 x Ultra High Frequency Satellite Communications Equipment
  • 3 x Ultra High Frequency Demand Assigned Multiple Access Satellite Communications Equipment
  • 1 x Global Command and Control System-Naval ...
  • Encryption/Decryption Equipment Battlefield Command and Control System

The Army Battlefield Command and Control System Local Area Network has been fitted, but not set to work. The system has some 44 outlets connecting the briefing rooms, operations room, communications centre, embarked forces headquarters and command functional areas. The system will provide land-theatre picture compilation with a full command and control suite for joint communications and operations staff. The system's Local Area Network allows the embarked Army force to plug in and establish a command and control network onboard. From: Budget supplementary estimates 2000-2001, Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, 23 November 2000

The UK is also looking at using Internet for military purposes:

UK naval commanders are set to start using an internet chat service installed on a secure government web site to co-ordinate military manoeuvres. Some experts believe this new communications medium could attract a different type of attack. Commanders will use the chat room in a major naval exercise next month. If all goes well, the Navy intends to use the technology in real combat situations. Chat rooms provide a cheap and efficient alternative to radio communications for non-crucial communications, such as ongoing discussions about how an operation is progressing, according to the Navy. But some experts believe it will also come with increased risks. From Royal Navy turns to web chat, Will Knight,, 5 Septembber 2001

But Christopher Avram pointed out:

What a great opportunity for intelligence gathering, just provide the people on the ship with internet cafe.


Thanks also to Lex Weaver (ANU).

Further Information:

Comments and corrections to:

Copyright © Tom Worthington 2001.