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 Indian Ocean, Apr. 13, 2012.
Commodore Jonathan Mead, Royal Australian Navy and Commander, Task force 150, directed British Warship HMS Westminster to search for, intercept and board the suspected vessel. The boarding was conducted in accordance with international law as the vessel was suspected of being without nationality. Searches revealed that the vessel was carrying over 180kg of pure heroin, with an estimated street value of approximately $22 million.
HMS Westminster has been on task since leaving the UK in January 2012 and has been involved in maritime security and counter-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean. Westminster uses her Merlin helicopter and embarked Royal Marines Boarding Team to conduct these operations.
Commanding Officer of HMS Westminster, Captain Nick Hine described the mission as a significant event:“This has been a successful day for Westminster and for CMF. These smugglers have failed in their quest to make money by bringing misery to those addicted to this harmful substance in the cities around the world.”
Commodore Mead commented on the success of HMS Westminster:
“We are talking about a street value of approximately $22 million and I am quite proud of the fact that CTF 150 has now effected the disposal of these substances and further legitimised the lawful and stable maritime environment we are here to champion.”
“This is a dark day for terrorists – CTF 150’s second disruption in two months brings our tally of narcotics seized and destroyed to a total of 422 kilograms. The subsequent destruction of these drugs reduces the funding lines of known terror groups by $49 million.”
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.