Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Toronto successfully disrupted her fifth – and by far the largest – narcotics shipment since March of this year as part of ongoing counter-terrorism operations in the Arabian Sea.
During the search and inspection of a vessel by the ship’s naval boarding team on May 30th, Toronto’s crew recovered approximately 6 tonnes of hashish. The narcotics were recovered without incident and will be destroyed.
“It is my great honour to congratulate the crew of HMCS Toronto on another successful interdiction operation in the Arabian Sea,” said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. “Their efforts represent Canada’s continuing dedication toward ensuring a secure maritime environment for legitimate mariners in the region.”
This marks the largest hashish seizure in Combined Maritime Forces history. Earlier this spring, HMCS Toronto also seized one of the largest amounts of heroin on the seas.
To date, HMCS Toronto has recovered roughly 7.3 tonnes of narcotics, representing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of drugs at street value. On March 29, a massive narcotics shipment in the Indian Ocean was disrupted when the ship’s naval boarding team recovered approximately 500 kilograms of heroin. In addition, her crew recovered 317 kilograms of heroin on May 6, 195 kilograms of heroin on May 10, and approximately 300 kilograms of heroin on May 23.
“HMCS Toronto’s activities are part of a broader Combined Maritime Forces counter terrorism effort to provide maritime security and stability across her operating area in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. Our common goal of maritime security and stability can only be achieved by continued cooperation and information sharing between our allied forces,” said Lieutenant-General Stuart Beare, Commander, Canadian Joint Operations Command. “By combining accurate intelligence, careful observation, and monitoring, with the experience developed by Toronto’s crew over the course of her deployment, and with the knowledge and cooperation of our allies and partners, we are seeing great success. Toronto and our mission partners can be justifiably proud of what she has achieved.”
Narcotics smuggling in the Arabian Sea and surrounding region is a recognized source of funding for terrorist organizations. Combined Maritime Forces and Combined Task Force 150 have been actively building links and working in close cooperation with local, regional, and international law enforcement agencies in the Middle East, enabling them to identify potential offenders at sea.
“I am extremely proud of the high level of proficiency and tenacity that my crew has shown on this deployment. The outstanding work of all onboard has contributed to these record narcotics seizures,” said Commander Jeff Hamilton, Commanding Officer of HMCS Toronto. “Toronto continues to operate with our Combined Task Force 150 partners to combat terrorism at all levels. Every dollar we deny these terrorist organizations works towards making our world a safer place.”
HMCS Torontois a Halifax-based Canadian patrol frigate with a crew of approximately 225 personnel, and includes a CH-124 Sea King helicopter air detachment, as well as a shipboard unmanned aerial vehicle detachment.
HMCS Toronto is deployed on Operation Artemis, Canada’s contribution to Combined Task Force 150, a multinational maritime task force combating terrorism across the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean, and the Gulf of Oman. As part of this multinational force, Toronto works alongside coalition partners to promote security, stability, and prosperity in an area that covers two million square miles, and encompasses some of the world’s most important shipping routes connecting the Far East to Africa, Europe, and North America. The region sees more than 23 000 shipping movements per year, and Combined Task Force 150 is one of three task forces commanded by Combined Maritime Forces, a naval partnership comprising 29 nations.
Press Release, June 5, 2013; Image: Canadian Navy