While many of us are still on Christmas holidays, HMAS Warramunga, with support from a UK Royal Navy helicopter, seized another 3.5 tonnes of illicit narcotics during a night-time operation in the Arabian Sea on 3 January 2018 – adding to her post-Christmas haul.
MAIN PHOTO: Leading Seaman Caleb Larnach, Able Seaman Eric Schneider and RNZN Leading Seaman Te Orangapumau Elia return to HMAS Warramunga carrying a load of seized narcotics. Photo by Leading Seaman Tom Gibson.
Warramunga intercepted and boarded a suspect vessel, under the direction of the Combined Maritime Forces’ (CMF) Australian-led Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 in international waters after the vessel was assessed to be engaged in possible illegal activity.
The interdiction came just days after Warramunga, which commenced Middle East operations in November last year, seized narcotics from three vessels over the period 27–29 December.
During the course of the latest operation, RFA Fort Rosalie’s helicopter provided surveillance, allowing Warramunga’s boarding party to locate and board the vessel.
The illegal narcotics, estimated to be valued at more than $180 million, takes Warramunga’s total seizures to more than 11.5 tonnes of hashish and 69kg of heroin, valued at more than $595 million.
Commanding Officer of HMAS Warramunga Commander Dugald Clelland said the operation was the result of a complex night operation conducted in close coordination with the crew of Fort Rosalie.
“The Royal Navy helicopter was able to cue us on to a suspect vessel, which Warramunga’s boarding party searched in challenging conditions,” Commander Clelland said.
“The boarding party did a first-rate job locating and seizing more than three-and-a-half tonnes of illicit narcotics.”
The Australian commander of CTF 150 Commodore Mal Wise praised the close teamwork between Fort Rosalie and Warramunga.
“In this challenging maritime environment, the Royal Navy Rotary Wing asset from Fort Rosalie was essential to locating the suspect vessel,” Commodore Wise said.
“Close cooperation assisted the crew of Warramunga in successfully seizing a substantial quantity of narcotics.
“This operation highlights the excellent cooperation shown by nations contributing to CMF operations in the Middle East, which are making an impact on the flow of illegal narcotics that fund terrorist networks.”
Warramunga is currently deployed to the Middle East on Operation Manitou, Australia’s commitment to maritime security and stability in the region including the CMF.
CMF is a coalition of 32 nations that conducts maritime security operations to ensure the free flow of legitimate commerce in the region and attempts to deny the use of the high seas to terrorist and illicit non-state actors.