Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Arunta has seized approximately 250kg of heroin during a vessel interception off the coast of Africa as part of Operation Manitou.
HMAS Arunta’s crew seized the drugs in the Indian Ocean on 10 May 2017 – her second narcotic interdiction since commencing counter-terrorism operations in December 2016.
Following detection by a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol, Arunta intercepted and boarded the suspect dhow as part of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150) which is currently under French command, supported by a combined French-UK staff.
This was the second major interdiction by the RNZAF P-3K2 Orion this month.
Commanding Officer HMAS Arunta Commander Cameron Steil praised the crew’s professionalism and ability to conduct a meticulous search, which led to the drug seizure.
“While the smugglers continue to try new techniques for hiding narcotics, our boarding parties have shown that their experience, training and techniques are up to the task at hand,” Commander Steil said.
Wing Commander DJ Hunt, who is leading the NZDF’s maritime security operations in the Middle East, said it was a fantastic result for the team and highlighted the NZDF’s significant contribution to the multi-national effort to stop narcotics smuggling and disrupting funding lines for terrorist organisations.
Commander Joint Task Force 633 (JTF633) Major General John Frewen said the successful drug interception was a joint effort as part of the broader Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).
“Arunta’s second seizure, as part of the CMF effort, will directly contribute to the overall maritime security, stability and prosperity in the region,” Major General Frewen said.
“This is a testament to their perseverance and hard work,” he said.
HMAS Arunta is Australia’s major surface vessel for Operation Manitou and is on her third deployment to the Middle East Region, as part of JTF633.
It is the 64th rotation of a Royal Australian Navy vessel in the region since 1990.
Operation Manitou is the current name for the Australian government’s contribution to support international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East Region.
Under Operation Manitou, HMAS Arunta is currently supporting the US-led CMF, a 31 nation partnership working within the region.