HMAS Arunta has completed a third significant narcotics interdiction after seizing 260kg of heroin in the Indian Ocean, while operating in support of the French-UK led Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150).
The Royal Australian Navy frigate intercepted the dhow after the ship’s embarked Seahawk helicopter detected it acting suspiciously on 7 June during a planned surface search.
The following morning, the frigate’s boarding team climbed on board the suspect vessel and began conducting their search. The smugglers go to extraordinary lengths to hide the valuable cargo, meaning searches can take several days on larger dhows. For example, in a recent seizure in support of CTF 150, the contraband was hidden below 2,500 kg of ice. Boarding teams use specialised search techniques and equipment to discover the illicit cargo and expedite the process.
Commander Cameron Steil, Commanding Officer HMAS Arunta, praised the professionalism of his crew after conducting operations in difficult weather conditions.
“Arunta’s skilled personnel working throughout the night and in difficult conditions have once again prevailed in disrupting narcotics smuggling activities in the Middle East region. This success can be fully attributed to the dedication and professionalism of Arunta’s Ship’s Company who have continued to set a high standard of operational competence,” said Commander Steil.
The interdiction takes Arunta’s tally of narcotics seizures since beginning her deployment in November 2016 to approximately 1.5 tons, including heroin and hashish. “Instead of saturating national drug markets and contributing to the funding streams of terrorist organisations, the narcotics have been destroyed. HMAS Arunta and her crew have continued their excellent work in support of CTF 150,” said Rear Admiral Olivier Lebas, Commander of CTF 150.
Major General Frewen, Commander of Joint Task Force 633, added: “HMAS Arunta has a strong reputation within the Combined Maritime Forces as being tenacious and meticulous in their pursuit of illegal cargoes and the discovery of these concealed drugs shows how well trained, equipped and motivated our personnel are.”