The crew of the Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Warramunga boosted their post-Christmas by seizing almost 8 tonnes of hashish and 69kg of heroin from drug smugglers while conducting maritime security operations in the Arabian Sea.
CAPTION: Leading Seaman Clearance Diver Luke Woodcroft from HMAS Warramunga numbers parcels of seized narcotics on the deck of a trafficking vessel. Photo by Leading Seaman Tom Gibson.
Warramunga intercepted and boarded three suspect vessels between 27 and 29 December 2017, in an operation planned and coordinated by the Combined Maritime Forces’ Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150), which is currently commanded by Australia and supported by a combined Australian-Canadian staff.
The illegal drug haul is the largest quantity of hashish seized by an Australian ship on Middle East maritime security operations with the overall haul estimated to be valued at around AUD$415 million.*
Commanding Officer HMAS Warramunga Commander Dugald Clelland said the operation was the culmination of months of hard work by the ship’s company.
“The crew prepared extensively for a task like this and we were able to employ our helicopter and boarding crews to locate and board three suspect vessels,” Commander Clelland said.
“A thorough search by the boarding parties uncovered a large quantity of hashish and heroin intended for distribution around the world.”
Commander of Australian Forces in the Middle East Major General John Frewen said the operation was a great credit to the professionalism, determination and dedication of the crew and would contribute to a more secure region.
“These drug seizures support Australia’s long-term mission to ensure maritime security and stability in the region,” Major General Frewen said.
“This operation will impact on the flow of narcotics around the world and the use of drug money to fund extremist organisations.”
Australian commander of CTF-150 Commodore Mal Wise said the three-ship haul of narcotics was a reflection of the capability that HMAS Warramunga brought to the operation.
“Coordination of this complex operation at sea demonstrates the effectiveness of the Combined Maritime Force coalition and the close cooperation of many organisations that is required to achieve success in such a mission,” Commodore Wise said.
The illegal drugs were transferred to HMAS Warramunga for later disposal at sea.
HMAS Warramunga is deployed to Operation Manitou in the Middle East region for the third time, as part of Joint Task Force 633 and is on the 66th rotation of an individual Royal Australian Navy ship in the region since 1990.