SYDNEY - The Australian navy was Friday investigating allegations of "inappropriate behaviour" reportedly related to bizarre initiation rites in which young sailors were sexually assaulted with pens, bananas and bottles.
The navy did not confirm the nature of the investigation, but said it concerned the Anzac Class Frigate HMAS Ballarat which is currently deployed on border protection operations.
"Allegations such as these are serious and it is critical that the investigative process is properly followed. As such I will not speculate on any aspect of the allegations," chief of navy Vice Admiral Ray Griggs said in a statement.
"We have dealt with the allegations swiftly and I reiterate that inappropriate behaviour is not consistent with our values and is not tolerated in Navy."
The allegations, the latest in a line of sex scandals to hit Australia's defence force, were reported to the navy on Monday by a sailor and carried up the chain of command for further inquiry.
A former woman sailor has told Channel 10 that crew had long been worried about hazing rituals in which a gang would assault young male colleagues using pens, pencils and water bottles, typically on their birthdays.
"People were set upon by other members, stripped off, and had things essentially put in their bums," the woman, known only as "Bridget", said.
A report in Sydney's Daily Telegraph said the items used in the alleged assaults also included bananas and carrots.