HMAS Melbourne has struck a third time against the trafficking of narcotics in the Middle East confiscating another 216 kilograms of high-grade heroin worth an estimated $64 million.
The seizure takes the Royal Australian Navy’s narcotics haul since February 2014 to over 5 tonnes – and to almost $664 million for 2015.
Melbourne’s Commanding Officer, Commander Bill Waters, said the intercept was a great success for the ship and her boarding teams.
“It also highlights the work of our support agencies ashore that provide us the vital intelligence needed to be in the right place at the right time,” he said.
“It’s a big ocean out here, so to get a result is a team effort from a number of nations and organisations.”
Commodore Jaimie Hatcher the Australian commander of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, which coordinated the support, praised the efforts of Melbourne.
“While it is very pleasing to get a result within a week of assuming command of CTF 150, the ultimate success lies with the skill of Melbourne’s crew, in particular her boarding teams.”
The heroin was transferred to Melbourne for further analysis.
The intercept tops a momentous week for the crew of Melbourne which included her claiming the Gloucester Cup, awarded annually to the best Royal Australian Navy unit.
“We’ve had a very successful year and this seizure is a great way to cap it off,” Commander Waters said.
“This award could not have been possible without the support of our families.
“They are as much a part of this ship as we are.”
Melbourne is on her eighth deployment to the Middle East region as part of Operation Manitou, Australia’s contribution to Maritime Security Operations in the Middle East region.
She is the 61st rotation of a RAN vessel in the region since the first Gulf War in 1991.
Melbourne is operating within Combined Task Force 150, which is one of three principle task forces operated by the Combined Maritime Force, a 30-nation coalition based in Bahrain.