A UK Navy-led team from Portsmouth are heading back to the UK after leading a multinational force of warships in the Gulf which achieved seven significant heroin and hashish seizures.
Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150) is in charge of maritime security operations in the Indian Ocean and aims to deter terrorism and promote peace and security for seafarers. It is one of three task forces operated by the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a 30-nation naval partnership.
The seven drugs seizures were part of ongoing counter-terrorism operations to disrupt drug smuggling in the Indian Ocean, profits from which provide funding for terrorist organisations and included the largest ever maritime seizure of heroin.
A record breaking 1,032 kilograms was discovered aboard a dhow in international waters off the coast of East Africa earlier this year by an Australian warship under CTF-150’s command.
Commodore Jeremy Blunden, the Commander of CTF 150, who has now handed over the reins to the Pakistani Navy, said: “It has been a great honour for me to command Combined Task Force 150 and to work in this unique multinational forum.
“We have made a useful contribution to CMF operations and to the understanding of unlawful activity in the region. Directing operations which achieve the interdiction of narcotics bound for the UK is also very satisfying work.”
Vice Admiral John Miller, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, Combined Maritime Forces noted CTF-150’s recent successes.
He said: “Commodore Blunden, under your leadership Her Majesty’s Australian Ship Darwin emerged as CTF-150’s star player, setting a United Nations record for the largest heroin seizure at sea in the Indian Ocean.
“During her deployment, the ship had a record six seizures — successfully destroying about 1,700 kilograms of heroin and more than 10,500 kilograms of hash — all worth more than $770 million U.S. dollars in street value.”
The 25 person team, which included a representative from the National Crime Agency, was based in Bahrain from 10 April to 14 August working alongside a multinational staff and ships at sea from Australia, Canada, France, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United States and the UK.