The crew of Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Warramunga has intercepted two vessels and seized approximately eight tonnes of hashish valued at approximately $400 million during operations in international waters of the Arabian Sea.
Warramunga has now seized 19.5 tonnes of hashish and 1.5 tonnes of heroin, valued in excess of $1.43 billion since deploying to the Middle East in November 2017, the Royal Australian Navy said.
On 3 March Warramunga’s Seahawk helicopter crew detected a vessel of interest during surveillance operations. A boarding party searched the vessel, uncovering 4.1 tonnes of illicit cargo.
The Seahawk crew then detected a second vessel of interest and the subsequent boarding and search operation resulted in the seizure of an additional 3.9 tonnes of illegal narcotics.
The Commanding Officer of HMAS Warramunga, Commander Dugald Clelland, RAN, said he has been continually impressed with the crew’s determination and professionalism.
“This has been a high tempo deployment for HMAS Warramunga but we have been fortunate in seeing significant quantities of narcotics not reach their final destination as a result of the efforts of the crew and the CTF 150 team,” he said.
“Preventing the movement of these narcotics not only potentially saves lives; it also deprives terrorist and other criminal organisations of $1.43 billion in revenue, which allows us to degrade the effectiveness of these organisations.”
The Commander of Joint Task Force 633, Rear Admiral Jaimie Hatcher, AM, RAN, said the achievements of Warramunga and her crew reflect a longstanding legacy of success by the RAN in the region.
“This is the 66th rotation of a Royal Australian Navy vessel in the region since 1990 and the continual successes of Warramunga during her rotation builds upon the foundation of commitment our Navy has shown to the region for nearly three decades,” Rear Admiral Hatcher said.
The narcotics were transferred to Warramunga and will be disposed of at sea.
Operation MANITOU is the Australian Government’s contribution to support international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East Region.
Combined Taskforce 150 is one of three task forces operating under Combined Maritime Forces. Australia assumed command of Combined Task Force 150 in December 2017.