US flags stronger security ties with Aust
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US flags stronger security ties with Aust

The United States has used the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea to flag even stronger security and travel ties with Australia.

US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will sign new agreements on security, information sharing and access to trusted passenger programs with Australia while she is in Canberra this week.

United States Secretary for Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, United States Ambassador to Australia Jeffery Bleich and Admiral Scott Swift depart a service marking the 70th Anniversary Of The Battle Of The Coral Sea, at the Australian American Memorial.

United States Secretary for Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, United States Ambassador to Australia Jeffery Bleich and Admiral Scott Swift depart a service marking the 70th Anniversary Of The Battle Of The Coral Sea, at the Australian American Memorial.

Photo: Getty Images

Ms Napolitano led the presidential delegation - which included the Commander of the US 7th Fleet, Vice-Admiral Scott Swift - that took part in a commemorative service at the Australian-American Memorial at Russell yesterday.

''Part of the reason for my visit is to sign new agreements that will express our intent to improve information sharing between the US and Australia; continue to work together to secure the global supply chain; further co-operate to fight terrorism, transnational crime and violent extremism and facilitate travel for our citizens,'' she said.

Under United States law, airlines flying in from abroad have to provide basic passenger information including name, date of birth, nationality and their passport number. Australia has a similar requirement.

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Ms Napolitano said during 2008 and 2009 passenger name record data - or PNR - had helped American authorities identify up to 3000 individuals with potential ties to terrorism.

''In fiscal year 2010 approximately one-quarter of those individuals denied entry to the US for having ties to terrorism were initially identified through PNR data analysis,'' she said.

The secretary read a personal message from President Barack Obama at yesterday's service.

''This battle [the Battle of the Coral Sea] laid the groundwork for an alliance between the United States and Australia that was later formalised through the signing of the ANZUS Treaty in 1951,'' the President said.

''After seven decades we remain united in our purpose to preserve freedom, maintain stability and promote lasting peace.''

Ms Napolitano said the US ''has no stronger allies than Australia'' and said the battle, fought by aircraft flown off two fleets that never made visual contact, stopped the Japanese invasion of Port Moresby.

It is said to have saved Australia from invasion.

One of its heroes, Vice-Admiral Sir John Crace, is to be honoured tomorrow when a memorial to the Australian participants is dedicated on a hill overlooking the new suburb of Crace on Canberra's northern outskirts.

Sir John, a rear-admiral in May 1942, commanded the cruiser and destroyer force made up of HMAS Australia, HMAS Hobart, USS Chicago, USS Perkins and USS Walke.

The $200,000 memorial was commissioned, built and paid for by CIC Australia after a story in The Canberra Times detailing the Royal Australian Navy's part in the battle last May.

Formerly the Canberra Investment Corporation, CIC Australia is the Crace developer.

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