Royal Australian Navy Frigate HMAS Ballarat has seized a total of 6,828kg of narcotics in a 6 day period worth a regional wholesale value of over $3.5m (USD) whilst deployed to the Middle East working as part of the Pakistan led Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150).
HMAS Ballarat’s latest seizure took place on 7 th June 2019 and was the eighth such seizure since the Pakistan Navy resumed command of CTF 150 in April. HMAS Ballarat has been operating in the Arabian Sea where she is detecting and boarding suspect vessels, usually dhows.
Commander Paul Johnson, Commanding Officer of HMAS Ballarat, said: “These boardings are essential to achieving maritime security in the region. Our goal is to disrupt the sources of funding for terrorism and deny the narcotics trade in the Middle East,” He continued, “The team have been working hard to track, intercept and board these vessels in some difficult conditions." Stopping illegal activities in international waters is one of the main aims of CTF 150, the maritime security Combined Task Force of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). Since the
Pakistan Navy took command of CTF 150 in April 2019, the crew of HMAS Ballarat has discovered, and subsequently destroyed, quantities of heroin, hashish and methamphetamines hidden onboard the dhows, worth a regional wholesale value of $7.64m (USD).
HMAS Ballarat has been operating in the Gulf since November 2018 and has conducted 15 boardings during this time. These latest interceptions take her total haul since arriving to just under 21 tonnes of drugs – roughly the weight of ten rhinoceros – worth a regional wholesale value of almost $25m (USD).
CTF 150 is a multi-national task force consisting of warships from CMF. Member nations come together to help maintain maritime security throughout the Middle East region. CTF 150’s Area of Operation includes some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and spans over two million square miles, covering the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman.
Commodore Alveer Ahmed Noor SI(M), Commander of CTF 150 said: “Continued commitment and resolve by the CTF 150 team and deployed units has been instrumental in thwarting and containing illegal activities at sea. The successive boarding operations by HMAS Ballarat leading to the seizure of 6828 kg of narcotics worth $3.5m (USD) reflects the untiring efforts of her crew in suppressing illicit activities in our Area of Operation. Together we will continue to ensure good order at sea”.