Australian frigate makes second major drug haul in a week

Parcels of seized narcotics lay on the deck of a smuggling vessel as HMAS Warramunga's boarding party make the interception. Photo: Royal Australian Navy

The crew of Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Warramunga seized 3.5 tons of narcotics on January 3, days after making a record 8-ton hashish interception on December 27-29.

During the latest operation, HMAS Warramunga seized illicit narcotics during a night-time operation in the Arabian Sea with help from a Royal Navy helicopter.

The illegal narcotics are estimated to be valued at more than $181 million, taking Warramunga’s total seizures to more than 11.5 tonnes of hashish and 69 kg of heroin, valued at approximately $596 million.

Warramunga intercepted and boarded the suspect vessel, under the direction of the Combined Maritime Forces Australian-led Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 in international waters after the vessel was assessed to be engaged in possible illegal activity.

During the course of the operation, the United Kingdom’s Royal Fleet Auxillary Fort Rosalie’s helicopter provided surveillance allowing Warramunga’s boarding party to locate and board the vessel.

Commanding officer of Warramunga, Commander Dugald Clelland, said the operation was the result of a complex night operation conducted in close coordination with the crew of Fort Rosalie.

“The Royal Navy helicopter was able to cue us on to a suspect vessel, which Warramunga’s boarding party searched in challenging conditions,” Commander Clelland said.

“The boarding party did a first-rate job locating and seizing more than three-and-a-half tonnes of illicit narcotics.”

Warramunga is currently deployed to the Middle East on Operation MANITOU, Australia’s commitment to maritime security and stability in the region including the Combined Maritime Forces.

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