HMAS Newcastle Concludes CMF Middle East Mission

HMAS Newcastle is heading home to Sydney after a successful deployment to the Middle East region, where she seized the second-biggest illegal drug haul in Combined Maritime Forces history.

The Royal Australian Navy guided missile frigate was deployed as part of Operation MANITOU, Australia’s contribution to the US-led multi-national Combined Maritime Forces where she made a significant impact in the fight against drug trafficking and enhanced maritime security in the region.

Units assigned to Forces undertake patrols to combat piracy, drug trafficking and other illicit activities to deliver a maritime security presence in the region where the Australian ship’s four-and-a-half months on-station resulted in the seizure and disposal of 1,525kg of narcotics, with a conservative street-value of more than A$1.222 billion.

Seized narcotics are laid out on HMAS Newcastle's flight deck in preparation for destruction at sea
Seized narcotics are laid out on HMAS Newcastle’s flight deck in preparation for destruction at sea

During her deployment Newcastle’s steamed more than 33,500 nautical miles while on patrol, her embarked S-70B Seahawk helicopter flew 250 hours and the galley served up more than 79,200 meals to keep the ship operating 24 hours per day.

Major General Shane Caughey, Acting Chief of Joint Operations said:

Australian ships have intercepted more than four tonnes of illegal narcotics since February 2014, which is impacting the ability of terrorist organisations to fund their activities.

HMAS Newcastle departed her home port of Sydney on 1 April this year and replaced the Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment vessel HMAS Success as the Australian major fleet unit from 28 April.

Image: Australian Navy

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