In a combined French and Australian operation, naval ships seized and destroyed almost 650 kilograms of cannabis resin hidden aboard a smuggling skiff in the Red Sea.
After HMAS Darwin intercepted the skiff, her boarding party discovered the cannabis resin in 120 plastic packages concealed in hessian bags labelled ‘Basmati Rice’.
The skiff was initially detected by a French maritime patrol aircraft, with coordination and direction provided by the French Ship (FS) Jean Bart and HMAS Darwin’s Seahawk helicopter. The operation’s commander and Commanding Officer of the FS Jean Bart, Captain Benoit Bautonnière, requested HMAS Darwin close and investigate the skiff.
HMAS Darwin’s Commanding Officer, Commander Terry Morrison, said Australia’s interoperability with the French was key to the interdiction.
“Today we removed these drugs from potential terrorist funding networks and demonstrated the highly effective interoperability of HMAS Darwin, FS Atlantique’s aircraft, FS Jean Bart and Combined Task Force 150,” Commander Morrison said.
FS Jean Bart and HMAS Darwin are currently deployed on patrol under tasking to the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and the Australian led Combined Task Force (CTF) 150.
CTF 150 Australian commander Commodore Daryl Bates said the seizure reinforces concerns that smugglers are active in the Red Sea area.
CTF 150 is one of three principle task forces operated by the CMF a 30-nation coalition based in Bahrain. CTF 150’s Area of Operation and responsibility spans over 2.5 million square miles, covering the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman.
|HMAS DARWIN SPECIFICATIONS|
|Speed||Over 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)|
|Complement||184 + aircrew|
|Range||4,500 nautical miles (8,300 km; 5,200 mi)
at 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
|Status||In active service|
Press Release, March 12, 2014, Image: Australian MoD