Maritime security operations by Australian and New Zealand frigates operating in the Middle East region over the past six weeks have seized almost 1,000 kilograms of narcotics worth an estimated $USD 625 million.
Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Guided Missile Frigate, HMAS Newcastle netted 724kg of narcotics worth an estimated $USD 461 million. During the same operation, New Zealand ship HMNZS Te Kaha seized 256kg of narcotics worth an estimated $USD 165 million.
Patrolling as part of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF)’ Combined Task Force – 150, HMAS Newcastle’s Commanding Officer, Commander Dominic MacNamara said narcotics seizures play a significant part in denying a key source of funding to terrorist organisations.
“These interdictions demonstrate that the Royal Australian Navy and Combined Maritime Forces are serious about removing these streams of revenue for terrorism,” said Commander MacNamara.
“Newcastle’s crew are focused on the mission and are doing Australia proud in the eyes of the international community that is Combined Maritime Forces,” added Commander MacNamara.
“Our success is not only due to the tenacity and hard work of Newcastle’s crew, we are the tip of Combined Maritime Forces’ spear. There are thirty nations working together to achieve these results and our success is a testament to the combined professionalism of all these forces.
The Commander of Australian forces in the Middle East, Rear Admiral Trevor Jones said: “These drug interdictions are a credit to the training, hard work and dedication of HMAS Newcastle and her crew who have brought together all these aspects and turned them into tangible results that strike at the heart of terrorist funding networks.”
The Deputy Commander Combined Maritime Forces, Commodore Will Warrender, United Kingdom Royal Navy said the successful drug seizures were made possible by using many aspects of CMF multi-national operations and international organisations that identify, track and board trafficking ships and dhows across thousands of miles of open sea.
HMAS Newcastle has been working closely with other CMF ships including the Royal Navy frigate HMS Richmond and French National Navy command and replenishment ship French Ship Var.
The combined counter-terrorism and counter-narcotic maritime operation was conducted from the 29th of April to the 15th of June 2015.
HMAS Newcastle is currently deployed to the Middle East region as part of Australian Defence Force’s Operation MANITOU.
HMAS Newcastle is the 60th rotation of an RAN vessel to the Middle East region since the first Gulf War in 1990.