Navy security review after heist
Scene of the crime ... Darwin Naval Base. Photo: Glenn Campbell
The navy has begun a review of security across its fleet after an intruder broke into a Darwin naval base, overpowered a guard and stole weapons. HMAS Coonawarra base went into lockdown on Friday after the armed man stole at least two pump-action shotguns and 12 semi-automatic pistols. The masked intruder assaulted the guard just before midnight on Thursday and bound him up with cable ties.
On Friday, Northern Territory police locked down the base and searched all exiting vehicles but the weapons have not yet been found.
Commander Richard Bryson from the Crime and Specialist Support Command said that the magazines that go with the weapons had not been stolen.
''Unless there’s been some further assistance or intervention we’re confident that the weapons are not capable of being utilised at this point in time,'' he told reporters in Darwin.
Commander Bryson noted that the attack had happened in the dark and that the sailor had only been able to provide a basic description of the intruder to police.
The intruder was wearing a balaclava and military-style clothing.
He also appeared to have good knowledge of the layout of the patrol boat and ADF procedures.
NT police are investigating the incident, along with Defence personnel and the Australian Federal Police. On Friday, most of the police investigations were forensic.
Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Ray Griggs told Fairfax Radio that he had also initiated a review of security "more broadly across the fleet" on Friday morning, in the wake of the incident.
"It’s certainly a breach of security and it’s a very concerning one for me," he said, noting an incident like this had not happened before on a ship.
The navy chief said that the young sailor assaulted in the incident was shaken but OK. "He’s being looked after," he said.
HMAS Coonawarra is a naval base in Darwin, about two kilometres from the city centre.