HMAS Darwin’s contribution to operations in the Middle East was formally recognised during a visit to the ship on 2 July by Commodore Jeremy Blunden Royal Navy, Commander of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150).
The Sydney-based frigate has been deployed to the Indian Ocean since March 2014 and has supported the counter-terrorism task force, CTF-150, as part of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a maritime coalition of 30 nations based in Bahrain.
During her deployment Darwin has engaged in both military and safety of life at sea operations and made a significant contribution to counter narcotics operations in the Indian Ocean, the proceeds of which help finance terrorist organisations.
In addressing Darwin’s crew, Commodore Blunden said:
“This has been a great deployment. Not only have you broken the CMF records for the single largest seizures of both heroin and hashish but you have contributed significantly to improving our understanding of how drug smugglers operate, information that will be of real value to follow-on units.”
Commodore Blunden highlighted the efforts of all the ship’s departments in achieving so much.
He noted the continued determination and professionalism displayed by the boarding parties during long and demanding searches and the efforts of the engineering and logistics departments who have sustained very good levels of support to operations.
During this deployment Darwin has seized 1,675 kg of heroin and 10,647 kg of hashish in eight boarding operations.
On 24 April, the ship achieved the largest ever seizure of heroin at sea when 1,032kg was found on a dhow off the coast of East Africa in international waters.
On 28 June the ship seized 6,248 kg of hashish from another dhow in the Indian Ocean, one of the largest amounts of hashish found by a warship operating as part of CMF.
Commodore Blunden urged Darwin’s crew to continue to add to their record breaking success during the final few weeks of her deployment.
CTF-150 conducts maritime security operations in the Indian Ocean to deter terrorism and promote peace and security. It is one of three principle task forces operated by the Combined Maritime Forces.
The Australian Defence Force commitment to Maritime Security Operations in the Middle East and counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden is conducted under Operation MANITOU.
Press Release, July 15, 2014; Image: Australian Navy