HMAS Darwin has again intercepted a suspected drug smuggling vessel operating in international waters, seizing 786 kilograms of narcotics with an estimated street value of $30 million.
Darwin’s boarding parties boarded the suspicious dhow in the Arabian Sea and spent approximately 23 hours searching for and uncovering the drugs.
Darwin’s Commanding Officer, Commander Terry Morrison, said the ship’s Seahawk helicopter located the suspicious vessel, resulting in another smuggling interception with a total of over 6 tonnes of narcotics seized during this deployment
“This clearly indicates that the Australian Defence Force and the Combined Maritime Forces are having a significant impact on this illicit trade and on terrorist funding streams,” Commander Morrison said.
Darwin’s boarding party discovered the hidden drugs contained in 37 bags, each weighing between 21-22 kilograms, just a day after seizing five kilograms of heroin in a separate boarding task on 18 May.
As part of Operation Slipper, Darwin is operating under the direction of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and the United Kingdom-led Combined Task Force (CTF) 150.
Commander of Australian Forces in the Middle East Area of Operations, Major General Craig Orme, said the continued success of HMAS Darwin reflected the commitment of the crew to supporting Australia’s strategic interests.
“During her deployment, HMAS Darwin has achieved great results in the fight against the illicit drug trade. They are doing a remarkable job on behalf of Australia and the international community,” Major General Orme said.
CTF 150 is responsible for enforcing maritime security in the Middle East and Indian Ocean regions to counter terrorist acts and related illegal activities, which terrorists use to fund or conceal their movements.
CTF 150’s commander, Commodore Jeremy Blunden of the Royal Navy, said Darwin was making an impressive contribution to disrupting drug smuggling in the region.
“The interception of illicit narcotics sends a powerful message to terrorist organisations that the world’s sea lines of communication will not be a freeway for sustaining the financial capital for terrorist activity and organisational growth,” Commodore Blunden said.
“I congratulate Commander Morrison and his team on their achievements.”
The CMF works to defeat terrorism, prevent piracy, encourage regional engagement, reduce illegal trafficking of people and drugs, and promote the maritime environment as a safe place for mariners with legitimate business.
HMAS Darwin is the 57th individual Royal Australian Navy ship deployment to the Middle East Area of operations since 1990.
Press Release, May 23, 2014; Image: Australian Navy