It has emerged from an inquiry that the "predatory culture" aboard the HMAS Success, of the Royal Australian Navy, sees young female sailors were routinely bullied and coerced into having sex with senior sailors.
In an opening statement to the independent inquiry into an alleged sex ring on the ship, senior counsel for the Australian Defence Force, Douglas Campbell, said a report found male sailors had actively sought out susceptible female recruits for sex, reports News.com.au.
The report, based on interviews with crew members, found drugs and alcohol were allegedly used during onshore leave to coerce female sailors into sexual acts and threats were made to stop them speaking out.
In one alleged incident last year, a senior sailor carried out a public sex act with a young female sailor in an Asian bar while senior officers looked on.
The inquiry, being led by retired judge Roger Gyles at hearings in Sydney, comes after an earlier investigation was found to be biased.
The alleged sex ring, known as The Ledger, involved sailors plotting to have sex with as many female crewmates as possible.
Three sailors were sent home after the alleged activities were discovered while HMAS Success was visiting Singapore in May 2009.
The Ledger allegedly involved dollar values being placed on each woman's head, with larger amounts offered if the sailors could sleep with a female officer or a lesbian.
Sailors also reportedly challenged each other to have sex in various locations, including on top of a pool table.
The report referred to at the inquiry today was carried out by Equity and Diversity officers after HMAS Success Commanding Officer Simon Brown was made aware of concerns about the treatment of junior female sailors.
The allegations were directed primarily at personnel of the ship's Marine Technician Department.
The Defence Department had launched a formal inquiry, but Defence Force head Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston ordered a new inquiry last month following legal advice that the initial investigation was biased.
The inquiry is continuing.
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