French frigate seizes heroin off the Horn of Africa

The boarding party of FS Surcouf flank one of the intercepted dhows. Photo: Combined Maritime Forces

French frigate FS Surcouf collaborated with a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft to make her first cocaine interception as part of the Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150).

Less than three weeks into its deployment, FS Surcouf made two narcotics seizures, with back to back boardings yielding around 400kg of heroin.

Early in the morning on April 28, Surcouf’s boarding team began their search of the first dhow. Over the course of the next four days they continued to search the vessel, finding multiple stashes and locating a total of around 200 kg of heroin.

The first boarding and seizure complete, Surcouf began to track down a second suspicious dhow, locating the vessel and beginning the second boarding on the May 3.

By the end of the day almost 200kg of heroin had been seized bringing the total over the six days and two boardings to around 400kg.

According to Combined Maritime Forces, the seized drugs have a value of over $US155 million.

The French/UK-led CTF150 is the operationalisation of French-UK naval co-operation under the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force framework, and includes staff from Belgium, Italy and Australia, exercising command over ships and aircraft from several CMF participating nations.

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