Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Ballarat has seized two tonnes of hashish worth approximately $100 million* in street value during a boarding operation on 28 February 2019.
CAPTION: HMAS Ballarat’s boarding party conduct a flag verification boarding on a dhow suspected of smuggling illegal narcotics in the Arabian Sea. Photo (and video) by Leading Seaman Bradley Darvill.
The boarding was conducted in international waters by the Combined Task Force 150 under the direction of the Combined Maritime Forces as part of Operation Manitou.
Following the suspicious behaviour of a fishing vessel or dhow, the boarding team searched and discovered 100 hessian bags of hashish on board, which were transferred to Ballarat for testing and then destroyed.
Boarding officer Lieutenant Lachlan Turner praised his team for conducting a safe and successful boarding.
“Our training, equipment and commitment to the job at hand makes for a very effective boarding team,” Lieutenant Turner said.
“We continue to ensure the same high standard on each and every occurrence.
“The ship as a whole, is very proud of our achievements to disrupt the trafficking of drugs and promote a safer maritime environment.”
This is the sixth seizure of narcotics by Ballarat during her current deployment to the Middle East, departing Fleet Base West in Rockingham in October last year.
Previous boardings have resulted in Ballarat seizing and destroying about 1.2 tonnes of heroin and 5.2 tonnes of hashish.
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*Note: This calculation is a based on the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission Illicit Drug Data Report 2015-16, p215, figures for Cannabis Resin (hashish) at AUD$50,000 per kilo.