Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) ship HMAS Melbourne has seized 353 kilograms of pure heroin off the Tanzanian coast, less than three weeks after Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Toronto, a former CMF unit, seized 280 kilograms in the same area.
Her Majesty’s Australian Ship (HMAS) Melbourne, operating under the command of the Australian-led Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, used her embarked S-70B Seahawk helicopter to locate the suspicious fishing vessel operating about 140 nautical miles east-north-east of Dar es Salaam while conducting maritime security operations in the region.
HMAS Melbourne boarded the vessel and a subsequent search revealed 353 kilograms of heroin hidden onboard.
Initial analysis of the heroin suggests that it is pure, which correlates with results from previous CMF seizures in the area. The narcotics were catalogued, before samples were taken for further analysis and the remainder promptly destroyed.
Commander Brian Schlegel, Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Commanding Officer, HMAS Melbourne, praised the professionalism of his boarding team and all involved in the operation saying “The whole of Melbourne’s ships company should be proud of our achievements today, which comes near to the end of our six month deployment. The boarding party, operations team, flight crew, and for that matter all of the ship’s company conducted themselves in a professional manner throughout this boarding operation.”
Commodore Daryl Bates, RAN, Commander CTF 150, said: “HMAS Melbourne’s most recent success comes on the back of similar successful seizures in the area by Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Toronto in December 2013 and January 2014. This concerted pressure by Combined Maritime Forces units to counter the smuggling of narcotics from terrorist organisations onto the African continent and beyond is having a real effect on the terrorists’ funding network.”
CTF 150 is one of three task forces operating under CMF, a 30-nation professional maritime force, based in Bahrain. CTF 150 is mandated to maintain maritime security and conduct operations to disrupt and deter terrorism and terrorism-related activities, including narcotic trafficking, in the maritime regions of the Middle East and Indian Ocean.