Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 unit has intercepted a second suspected drug smuggling vessel, seizing 8kg of methamphetamine based substances within just 96 hours of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) largest ever interception of amphetamines.
CTF 150 staff promptly directed The Royal Australian Navy’s Guided Missile Frigate, HMAS Melbourne to close and board the suspect dhow in the Arabian Sea. HMAS Melbourne used her embarked S-70 Seahawk helicopter to locate a suspect dhow, operating about 170 nautical miles east-south-east of Muscat.
On locating the dhow HMAS Melbourne’s boarding team conducted a standard security sweep locating a suspicious substance. The material was tested on board the dhow and found to be a meth-amphetamine based substance, weighing approximately 8kg with an estimated street value around 3.2 million US Dollars.
HMAS Melbourne’s boarding team seized the suspected narcotics, took samples for further analysis, and promptly destroyed the remainder.
Commander Brian Schlegel, Commanding Officer HMAS Melbourne, praised the professionalism of Melbourne’s boarding team, and all involved in the operation saying:
“The boarding team, operations team, flight crew and for that matter all the Ships Company conducted themselves in a professional manner during this boarding operation.”
He added: “The ships company are proud that in October, Melbourne disrupted a pirate action group of nine suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia, and within a week, we have now had two successful drug seizures. The first was 9.8kg of methamphetamines with an estimated street value of $US 3.9 million and today we have seized another 8 kg of methamphetamines, worth $US 3.2 million.”
The successful seizure and destruction of the illegal narcotics further demonstrates the contribution and commitment CMF and CTF 150 has towards the deterrence of illicit activity and the promotion of maritime security and stability in the Middle East region.
Commodore Daryl Bates, Royal Australian Navy, Commander CTF 150, commended Melbourne efforts with this, her second successful interdiction of narcotics saying:
“These are the two largest seizures of methamphetamines we have seen in the region since the formation of the CMF. This removal of another 8kg of methamphetamines, combined with the other 9.8kg seizure, will severely impact the funding network of the terrorist organisations that rely on these shipments for income.”
“These interceptions prove how valuable the contribution of Australia and the other partnership nations are to the efforts of the CMF. Without this ongoing support by both coalition and regional nations, CMF would not be able to continue its efforts against terrorism and piracy in the Middle East and Northern Indian Ocean regions. ”
HMAS Melbourne is one of many warships presently deployed on patrol in the Middle East and northern Indian Ocean regions under tasking to CMF, a multinational naval partnership of 29 nations, which exists to promote security, stability and prosperity across approximately 2.5 million square miles of international waters, which encompass some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.
CTF 150’s, one of three task forces under CMF, mandate is about promoting the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment. Maritime Security Operations deny international terrorists the use of the seas as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons, or other illicit material.