MORE success for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) frigate HMAS Ballarat as the ship seized a third haul of illegal drugs in just over two weeks. On this occasion, HMAS Ballarat found and destroyed 3100 kg of illegal Hashish during a boarding operation that took place late in the evening of January 8, 2018.  Operating under the direction of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, this is the 6th seizure that has taken place since the current Canadian Armed Forces led team took command of the Task Force on December 6, 2018.

Operation MANITOU

HMAS Ballarat’s boarding party lays out the seized hashish on the ship’s flight deck. 

Commanding Officer of HMAS Ballarat, Commander Paul Johnson, said the boarding team conducted the night-time boarding professionally, discovering the narcotics hidden in void spaces around the vessel. “The seizure is a reflection of the continued trade in illegal narcotics that has the potential to fund terrorist groups across the region.”

Commodore Darren Garnier, Royal Canadian Navy, Commander CTF 150 said: “CTF 150 is starting the new year strong with another seizure of illegal drugs. As we mark our sixth seizure in six weeks, our successes demonstrates the value of the coordinated efforts of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) coalition international naval partnership. As a team, we are actively disrupting the use of the high seas by terrorist organizations and denying them freedom of action in order to promote maritime stability and prosperity in the region.”

Operation MANITOU
HMAS Ballarat’s boarding party and crew prepare the seized hashish for disposal 

The Canadian-led CTF 150 Task Force, supported by RAN personnel, have been successful in intercepting illegal drugs in the area, known as the Hash Highway. Here, dhows are used to transport drugs across the Northern Arabian Sea.

Captain RAN Leif Maxfield, Deputy Commander CTF 150 and Chief of Staff said: “I’m tremendously proud of the Ship’s Company of HMAS Ballarat and our CTF 150 Task Force who worked tirelessly throughout the night for a safe and successful boarding operation and seizure. ‘Bravo Zulu’ to HMAS Ballarat for your continued support to CTF 150.”

HMAS Ballarat is operating as part of Combined Maritime Forces CTF 150 supporting international efforts in promoting maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East Region.

Combined Maritime Forces is composed of thirty three nations and has three principle task forces: Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, which conducts counter-terrorism and maritime security operations; CTF 151, which conducts counter piracy operations; and CTF 152, which conducts maritime security operations in the Middle East.

Through maritime security operations, regional engagements, and capacity building activities, CTF 150 works to deter and deny terrorist organizations the use of benefits from using the high seas for smuggling illicit cargo including narcotics, UN embargoed weapons, and Somalian charcoal.