Combined Task Force 150 (CTF), one of three Task Forces within Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) conducted a successful disruption of a vessel carrying illicit cargo in the north Arabian Sea, Feb. 3, 2012.

The combined Australian and New Zealand staff of CTF 150 worked with CMF and other agencies to coordinate maritime security operations to disrupt the activities of extremist terrorist organizations.

The joint Australian effort led by HMAS PARRAMATTA intercepted, boarded and searched the suspected vessel. The boarding was conducted in accordance with International Law as the vessel was of unknown nationality. The search revealed 240 kilograms of amphetamine and heroin concealed in bags of flour and rice. The ships’ boarding team destroyed the illicit cargo.

In describing the success of the mission Commodore Jonathan Mead, Commander CTF 150 stated:

‘This represents the accumulation of many months of hard work, planning and international co-operation. This seizure marks the first interdiction of illicit cargo by a CMF asset in over two and a half years. I am advised that the volume of narcotics signifies a street value of approximately 5 million Australian dollars. The destruction of this illicit cargo is a victory for those who hope to create a lawful and stable maritime environment and is a blow for terrorists who seek to fund their activities through the transportation of narcotics on the high seas.”

HMAS PARRAMATTA has been on task since leaving Sydney in September 2011 and is a highly professional asset and a key player in international maritime security operations. CMF includes participation and contributions from 25 nations. PARRAMATTA is the 27th rotation by a Royal Australian Naval warship to the region since 2001.

Commanding Officer of HMAS PARRAMATTA, Commander Guy Blackburn described the mission as a significant event:

“This was a great day for HMAS Parramatta, a great day for the Combined Maritime Forces and a great day for the Australian forces in the Middle East area of operations. The crew of HMAS Parramatta is very proud of this result as it comes after months of hard work and the persistence of many agencies. Parramatta has been on task since leaving Sydney in September 2011 and is a highly professional, key player in our maritime security operations.”

CMF operates to defeat terrorism, prevent piracy, reduce illegal trafficking of people and drugs, and promote the maritime environment as a safe place for mariners with legitimate business. When called upon, CMF also responds to SOLAS and humanitarian crises.