Operating as part of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF150), Australian ship HMAS Darwin has uncovered and seized a large weapons cache following the boarding of a small fishing style vessel in the Middle East.
HMAS Darwin intercepted the vessel approximately 170 nautical miles (313 kilometres) off the coast of Oman and initially conducted a flag verification boarding. After assessing the vessel to be stateless, HMAS Darwin searched the vessel and discovered 1989 AK-47 assault rifles, 100 rocket propelled grenade launchers, 49 PKM general purpose machine guns, 39 PKM spare barrels and 20 60mm mortar tubes. These weapons were seized from the vessel that was heading towards the Somalia coast.
The weapons were seized under United Nations sanctions which authorise interdiction on the high seas of illicit weapons destined for Somalia.
Vice Admiral David Johnston, Australian Chief of Joint Operations, said: “the seizure on Darwin’s first patrol of such a large haul of illicit weapons is highly significant”. He added: “Australia worked as part of the multinational Combined Maritime Forces to discover and seize these illegal weapons. One of the key reasons HMAS Darwin is deployed to the region is to contribute to global security and counter international terrorism. Darwin’s successful boarding and subsequent seizure of the weapons concealed under fishing nets highlights the need to remain vigilant in the region.”
Commodore Jaimie Hatcher, AM, RAN, Commander CTF150 said: “HMAS Darwin is to be congratulated on such a significant seizure. This operation demonstrates the ongoing commitment that CTF150 and Combined Maritime Forces have to ensuring that those who seek to use the maritime domain to support terrorism are not successful.”
HMAS Darwin is deployed as part of the CMF and is assigned to the Australian led Combined Task Force 150. CMF is a multinational effort to prevent terrorism, piracy and drug smuggling, encourage regional cooperation and promote a secure maritime environment in the Middle East and off the east coast of Africa.