The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

General says growing US Marine numbers in northern Australia secure burgeoning gas industry

  • Print

CANBERRA, Australia - The growing number of U.S. Marines in northern Australia is enhancing the security of the nation's burgeoning gas industry, which extends across the remote and sparsely populated northern coast, a senior American general said on Wednesday.

Maj. Gen. Richard L. Simcock, Hawaii-based deputy commander of U.S. Marine Corps in the Pacific, was commenting after an executive of U.S. energy giant Chevron Corp. told a conference of concerns that gas rigs off the Australian northwest coast and tankers shipping liquid natural gas through Southeast Asian waters could be vulnerable to attack.

"We are very much aware that they could be considered strategic targets," said Chevron Australia Pty. Ltd managing director Roy Krzywosinski, referring to gas platforms and shipping routes.

Krzywosinski told the U.S. Studies Center conference on the U.S.-Australian defence alliance that his company was "in very significant and close engagement" with Australian authorities on how to protect tens of billions of dollars in energy assets and product.

Simcock said that the growing Marine presence in the northern city of Darwin as part of the U.S. military pivot toward Asia was ensuring the Australian energy industry's security.

"One of the things that the rebalance ensures is the security that has been provided to the region since World War II," Simcock told reporters on the sidelines of the conference. "How do you maintain that level of security in an evolving region? We think that part of that is through allies, partners, friends, but it's also about being here," he added.

Marine numbers are growing in Darwin as tensions rise to the north over China claim to virtually the entire South China Sea. China's claims include the potentially resource-rich Spratly Islands chain, where it has overlapping claims with the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. They also straddle one of the world's busiest sea lanes.

Since President Barack Obama announced in 2011 a permanent Marine presence in Darwin, troop numbers have grown from 250 to 1,100. Darwin is not regarded as a Marine base because the troops are rotated through rather than permanently posted.

Simcock said no timeframe had been set for the Marine presence to be increased to the maximum agreed with Australia of 2,500 troops.

The United States, Australia's most important defence ally, is the biggest source of foreign investment in Australia. But investment from China, Australia's most important trading partner, is the fastest growing source of investment.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman told the conference in a video address from Washington that the marine buildup in Darwin, along with the U.S. pursuit of a trans-Pacific free trade pact, "underscores the strategic commitment of the United States to the region."

Trade Minister Andrew Robb said in his speech that Australia was positioning to overtake Qatar as the world's largest producer of LNG within a few years.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told the conference that U.S investment in the Australian energy sector enabled the country to be "an energy powerhouse," supplying China, Japan and South Korea with LNP.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Maria Aragon performs new single "Nothing but a Beat"

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young gosling prepares to eat dandelions on King Edward St Thursday morning-See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 17- bonus - May 24, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Horses enjoy a beautiful September morning east of Neepawa, Manitoba  - Standup Photo– Sept 04, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Should panhandling at intersections be banned?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google