Defence in 'emergency' talks with USA over Darwin port sale

Pentagon officials have flown to Australia to for "emergency talks"
to express their frustration over the Port of Darwin sale
and Canberra's reluctance to stand up to Beijing.

Last year, the port hosted 102 naval vessels, according to its annual report, and was the point of arrival for US Marines on rotation through Darwin. Pentagon officials now want assurances from Australia on security arrangements at the port and better systems to ensure the breakdown in communication doesn't happen again.

The US officials also expressed concerns over Australia's lack of interest in sending naval ships to join Washington's so-called "freedom of navigation" operations in the South China Sea.

Defence consulted over Chinese company's port deal, NT Chief Minister says

Defence was asked about any sensitivities over Darwin's China port deal, the NT Government says.

Defence was consulted prior to the deal being sealed, after a NT parliamentary committee noted the strategic position of the port and warned no foreign investment should occur that threatened the country's security interests.

While a Federal Government spokesperson said Defence secured a 15-year access agreement to the port in anticipation of the lease occurring - they also said it was spending millions of dollars on an alternative barge facility in Darwin.

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), which is against the deal, has labelled the lease a strategic worry for the Top End, which plays host to a large Australian Defence presence and yearly rotations of USA Marines.

The USA Chief of naval operations, Admiral Greenert, when he was in Australia last year clearly identified port infrastructure needs in Darwin as a critical element to the growth of 'cooperation' in Darwin.

Parliament has approved an $18 million project to build a barge facility at a site adjacent to the Darwin port that will be capable of loading and unloading giant amphibious naval ships at short notice.

Sounds of War: Deadly Noise Around USA Bases

Residents near military air bases producing ''lethal'' levels of noise suffer from hearing loss, insomnia, stroke, heart attacks - even death.

Growing numbers of USA residents are finding themselves in the firing line of domestic military expansionism, whether it be living in areas subjected to chronic, harmful jet noise, or having their fishing areas disrupted and polluted by Naval war gaming exercises. For many, the issue could literally be a matter of life and death.

The impacts of noise pollution are often underestimated. Its effects span a broad range of health issues, many of which don't seem connected with sound or hearing at first glance.

obstructing USA navy landing hovercraft on darwin beach

this Sunday a Darwin man was arrested while attempting to obstruct war rehearsal operations at Lee Point.

Despite standing in the water off Lee Pt right in the path of the USA Navy LCAC amphibious craft, it continued to rush back and forth past the protester until he was removed from the area by water police.

The arrested man said he was protesting the context of a growing foreign military presence in and around Darwin.

"This growing foreign presence has contributed to the largest ever Darwin component of the biennial Talisman Sabre war rehearsals, amid dangerous posturing towards China."

"Australia should maintain good relationships with the USA, which may include a military alliance, but this should not extend to tolerating USA military bases in Australia. It may make sense to do some joint training, but we should be careful to not allow this to be abused by our ally to send dangerous signals to other nations in our region."

This lone protest coincided with two protesters in Queensland entering the Shoalwater Bay live-fire training range to obstruct war preparations there.

Earlier this week, three other protesters were arrested in the same area.

further details: http://peaceconvergence.org/media-releases/

USA navy transporter in Darwin Harbour for amphibious landings on public beaches

THE USS Green Bay pulled into the Port of Darwin on Wednesday with assault and utility helicopters on her deck and a 41m landing boat in her guts.

“Our charge is to make sure those marines are where they need to be, when they need to be there, ready to fight,” Capt McCallum said.

“What this entails is amphibious landings both from air and sea.

“We’ll have landing craft (and) helicopters on board that will be able to transport the Marines and equipment to where they need to be.”

This year, for the first time, amphibious landings that previously took place in Queensland as part of the biennial wargames will now turn to public beaches in Fog Bay, threatening sensitive turtle nesting events.