The Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Ballarat has seized more than 900 kg of heroin during two boarding operations that took place in international waters of the Northern Arabian Sea under the direction of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150.
Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) said the seizures took place on 21 and 23 December. They mark the fifth illegal drug seizure in December for ships operating under CTF 150 command, currently led by the Canadian Armed Forces, with support from the Royal Australian Navy.
Commodore Darren Garnier, Royal Canadian Navy, Commander CTF 150 said: “The past three weeks have been incredibly successful for our combined Canadian/Australian CTF 150 Task Group and the ships operating under our command who are doing an excellent job at deterring and denying terrorist activities on the high seas, our efforts demonstrate the value of international partnerships at sea and Combined Maritime Forces coalition efforts.”
HMAS Ballarat’s seizures started with flag verification checks on two separate vessels. During subsequent searches, the boarding team discovered and seized illegal narcotics, on both dhows. Approximately 165 kg of heroin was found on the first dhow, and 766 kg of heroin on the second. The drugs were transferred to HMAS Ballarat for disposal.
Commodore Garnier added: “Thanks to HMAS Ballarat’s hard work, significant quantities of narcotics will not reach their final destination, depriving terrorist organizations of revenue and profits they use to fund their illegal activities. Bravo Zulu to HMAS Ballarat and thank you for your continued efforts in support of CTF 150”
These are the first seizures HMAS Ballarat has made since starting operations in November 2018 in support of Operation MANITOU – the Australian Government’s contribution to support international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East Region.
Combined Maritime Forces is composed of thirty three nations and has three principle task forces: Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, which conducts counter-terrorism and maritime security operations; CTF 151, which conducts counter piracy operations; and CTF 152, which conducts maritime security operations in the Middle East.