The commander of Australia’s most lethal warship has been stood down following an allegedly drunken incident that caused international embarrassment for the navy.

Commander Kingsley Scarce was relieved of his command of HMAS Brisbane – Australia’s most lethal warship – last September. 

The $3billion guided missile destroyer was docked in Cairns at the time and an internal complaint was made against him from within the ADF.

Commander Scarce was accused of drinking alcohol to excess while at sea and embarrassing Australia at an international event involving US defence personnel.

The allegations were reportedly so serious that Commander Scarce was stood down straight away and an interim replacement was installed.

Five months later, the ADF is still investigating the issue, though 9News was told that a court martial is not expected even if the allegations are found to be true. 

The Australian Defence Force has been rocked by allegations of a drunken episode that caused international embarrassment to the Navy. HMAS Brisbane is pictured

The Australian Defence Force has been rocked by allegations of a drunken episode that caused international embarrassment to the Navy. HMAS Brisbane is pictured

The complaint against Commander Scarce, who is the son of former South Australian governor Kevin Scarce, came after his alleged conduct was reported to  Commodore Mick Harris, Australia’s Director General of Maritime Operations.

In 2023, following the Brereton war crimes report, the ADF banned drinking alcohol on operations or exercises. 

Consuming alcohol in ‘non-war-like operations’ is limited to two drinks, but that is only with approval and on national holidays.

Last August, the month before Commander Scarce was suspended, HMAS Brisbane took part in Malabar, a naval exercise that also included US, Japanese and Indian forces.

In an interview at the time, he said ‘One good thing about exercises like Malabar is that we get to understand the people at the other end of the systems, how they think, how they talk because whilst we might speak English, we don’t necessarily speak the same kind of English.

‘It can be even something as simple as if I’m talking to some of my American colleagues and I say, “Do you want to go for a brew?”. 

‘I’m talking coffee, they’re talking beer. I’m happy with both outcomes. But it’s very important that we understand the language that you’re using and what we actually mean when we’re talking to each other.’

While he was its commander, HMAS Brisbane also took part in Talisman Sabre, a training exercise led by Australia and the US involving 30,000 personnel from 13 countries.

The warship was involved in the search-and-rescue effort after a Taipan helicopter crashed off Lindeman Island in Queensland on July 28, killing four airmen. 

Channel Nine’s Andrew Probyn said some crew members saw Commander Scarce leaving the warship while it was at port in Cairns on September 18.

Commander Kingsley Scarce (pictured) was relieved of his command of HMAS Brisbane - Australia's most lethal warship - last September

Commander Kingsley Scarce (pictured) was relieved of his command of HMAS Brisbane – Australia’s most lethal warship – last September

The ship set sail for Darwin later that day before a three-month tour to Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and Guam.

It was on the scene in international waters near Japan when HMAS Toowoomba was ‘pinged’ by a Chinese warship on November 14.

The ADF confirmed a member had been stood down, but did not name Commander Scarce.

‘There is no place for unacceptable behaviour or conduct within Defence,’ an ADF spokeswoman said. 

‘All allegations of unacceptable behaviour are taken very seriously and investigated thoroughly following due process.’

Former senator Rex Patrick said the ADF was too secretive. 

‘Our Defence Force is extremely opaque, unnecessarily opaque,’ the ex-submariner said. 

‘Defence needs to be open with the Australian public if they want to gain their confidence.

‘It’s a really important arm of government. It receives tens of billions of dollars in public funding. We need to be confident in the manner in which defence is exercising its responsibilities and functions.’

Daily Mail Australia contacted Commander Scarce for comment through the ADF.  

Former senator Rex Patrick (pictured) said the ADF was too secretive. 'Our Defence Force is extremely opaque, unnecessarily opaque,' the ex-submariner said

Former senator Rex Patrick (pictured) said the ADF was too secretive. ‘Our Defence Force is extremely opaque, unnecessarily opaque,’ the ex-submariner said



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