HMAS Darwin’s Narcotics Disposal System Wins Safety Award

Australian Navy’s HMAS Darwin received one of the top awards at 2014 Navy Safety Awards at the Royal Australian Navy Heritage Centre in Sydney recently.

The award was granted for the safe disposal of large quantities of illegal narcotics seized while the guided missile frigate was deployed on Operation SLIPPER in the Persian Gulf earlier this year.

Chief Petty Officer Anthony Walsh developed the idea along with several members of Darwin’s Marine Technician department.

They had identified that harmful airborne particles coming from the narcotics while they were being disposed may represent a risk to ship’s staff and countered that with innovation.

Chief Petty Officer Walsh said:

The system primarily uses an old wheelie bin, through which substances can be funnelled.

The technique minimises airborne particles by using spray from the ship’s fire main to wet the particles, before funnelling them through the chute.

We also developed standard operating procedures on the use of the narcotic disposal unit, which have been passed onto other Royal Australian Navy ships deploying to operations that involve the interdiction and disposal of narcotics.

Commanding Officer of HMAS Darwin Commander Terry Morrison said the narcotics disposal unit was put to good use during the deployment.

We seized over twelve tonnes (more than AU$2.1 billion) of narcotics during our rotation. This included over one-point-six tonnes of heroin and almost eleven tonnes of hashish, which were destined to fund terrorist organisations.

Chief Walsh and his team came up with an ingenious solution to a hazard in the workplace, and I’m pleased their work has been recognised with this award.

Vice Admiral Tim Barrett presented the 2014 Navy Safety Awards to 11 individuals and ships.

HMAS Perth was commended for its health lifestyle initiative, HMAS Sydney was recognised for their store ship warm up solution to an identified workplace health and safety hazard and the Maritime Safety Bureau and Training Technology Support Unit was recognised for their electrical safety presentation package.

Press release, Image: Australian Navy

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