Nowra, Australia, Dec 5--Fire in a hangar today destroyed more than half the Australian Navy's anti-submarine patrol force.
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Background: Nowra, Australia, Dec 5--Fire in a hangar today destroyed more than half the Australian Navy's anti-submarine patrol force.
A Navy spokesman said the fire, which broke out after midnight at the naval air station at Nowra, south of Sydney destroyed seven twin-engined aircraft and damaged five others. Nobody was injured. A board of inquiry has been formed to investigate, the spokesman said.
Navy men pulled five of the aircraft from the blazing hanger before the roof collapsed on the other seven.
Mr. James Killen, the Australian Defence Minister, flew to the base today. The Grumman aircraft, purchased from the United States, are used as shore-based and carrier-based coastal patrol aircraft.
Defence Department officials said the Government would ask the United States urgently for six anti-submarine tracker aircraft. Officials said the aircraft pulled from the blazing hangar were too badly damaged to be able to fly again. This left the Navy with only one anti-submarine tracker capable of flying. It was being serviced in Sydney.
Mr. William Hayden, the Labour Opposition defence spokesman, described the fire as a "major public scandal".--