Combined Maritime Forces Ship Swoops in on Narcotics Smugglers

The Boarding Team from HMAS Toowoomba with their haul

The Boarding Team from HMAS Toowoomba with their haul

A Royal Australian Navy warship operating under the Pakistan-led Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150) achieved her second successful drugs haul off East Africa on Monday 17 November, stopping narcotics worth $158 million reaching the streets.

HMAS Toowoomba’s ships boat close in on the suspicious dhow

HMAS Toowoomba’s ships boat close in on the suspicious dhow

Anzac-class frigate HMAS Toowoomba is currently providing direct support to CTF-150, the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Task Group responsible for promoting safety and security at sea. The warship was on a routine patrol when it intercepted the dhow in international waters off East Africa. After boarding, an exhaustive search led to the discovery of 388kg of heroin in hessian bags.

Sailors from HMAS Toowoomba identify the substance/

Sailors from HMAS Toowoomba identify the substance

The drug seizure is part of a determined international campaign to disrupt narcotics smuggling in the Indian Ocean, profits from which are known to fund international terrorist organisations.

Commander Cath Hayes, the commanding officer of HMAS Toowoomba, praised her team and her colleagues in CMF:

“This, our second successful haul, is a direct result of timely intelligence and a well-executed plan developed in conjunction with our international partners in CTF-150 and CMF.”

She added:

“Our Pakistani colleagues in CTF-150 and CMF worked with us in the development of the plan that resulted in Toowoomba recovering 388kg of heroin. The teams ashore and onboard the ship provided key pieces of the puzzle which led to this successful intercept. The team exhibited tactical patience, utilizing all available intelligence, ship’s sensors and the embarked S70B-2 helicopter to scour a large search area and intercept the smuggler.”

CTF-150, currently commanded by Commodore Sajid Mahmood SI(M) of the Pakistan Navy, is an international task force charged with conducting maritime security operations to deny terrorists the use of the seas as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons, or other illicit material. This is the second successful counter-narcotics interdiction operation for CTF-150 since the Pakistan Navy took command of the maritime security and counter-terrorism mission on 14 August 2014.

Commodore Sajid lauded the professional and productive efforts put in by all involved in the successful seizure, and said:

“While we at the CTF-150 HQ feel proud to be successful, the men and women of Toowoomba deserve the actual praise, and special credit goes to the boarding team. The timely intelligence, cooperation displayed and swift actions leading to the successful seizure speak volumes of dedication and professional commitment on the part of the captain and crew of Toowoomba to the cause of CTF-150 and CMF. This operation also reinforces the efficiency of a carefully crafted deployment plan at the furthest end of the ‘smack track’ as envisioned by my Operations Team and assures CMF nations that CTF-150 units remain poised to conduct successful narcotics busts 24/7 throughout the year.”

About Combined Maritime Forces

CMF is a unique multi-national collective of like-minded nations, dedicated to promoting security and free flow of commerce across 3.2 million square miles of international waters in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Somali Basin, the Indian Ocean and the Gulf. CMF’s main focus areas are disrupting terrorism, preventing piracy, reducing illegal activities, and promoting a safe maritime environment for all.
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