The 25-member Royal Australian Navy counter terrorism taskforce, Combined Taskforce 150 (CTF150), returned to Australia today after a successful five month Middle East deployment, which resulted in the interdiction of significant amounts of drugs headed to fund violent and extremist organisations.
CTF150 is one of three task forces operated by the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a multi-national naval partnership, which promotes security, stability and prosperity across 2.5 million square miles of international waters.
Acting Commander Australian Fleet, Commodore Jonathan Mead, congratulated the team on their mission success.
“The outstanding professionalism and expertise of the team, led by Commodore Daryl Bates, ensured effective planning, coordination and management of maritime security operations in the Red Sea, Gulf Aden, Gulf of Oman and West Indian Ocean.
“Ships assigned to CTF150, including Royal Australian Navy HMA Ships Melbourne and Darwin, seized 1,494.3 kilograms of heroin, 5,610.5 kilograms of hashish and 24 kilograms of methamphetamines. The narcotics, if sold in Australia, would have a street value of $2.02 billion Australian dollars.
“Their hard work in an often challenging area of operations has had a tangible and enduring effect on the proliferation of narcotics trafficking. Further, by leading a constant maritime force presence in the region, they have helped protect major international shipping lanes.
“Ultimately, their fast, coordinated and decisive responses to maritime threats have made significant progress towards the goal of creating a lawful and stable maritime environment free from terrorism and smuggling.
“It should also be noted that the Australian CTF150 team was away from home during the Christmas and New Year period. I would like to thank their loved ones for their unwavering support which enabled our people to perform their duty,” said Commodore Mead.
Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, congratulated the team on extremely successful deployment.
“This is another example of Navy personnel doing an outstanding job in challenging circumstances. The significant drug seizures resulted from excellent planning and command of these activities.
“CTF150 was instrumental in the operational command of HMAS Melbourne who seized over one billion dollars in drugs during her recent deployment,” said Vice Admiral Griggs.
The team departed Australia on 19 November 2013. They assumed command of CTF150 from Pakistan on 1 December 2013 and concluded command on 10 April 2014, when they handed over to the Royal Navy.
Australia has had command of four previous CTF150 rotations. National command of the Taskforce is rotated between participatory nations on a four to six month basis.
Press Release, April 17, 2014; Image: Australian Navy