Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Warramunga is returning from a Middle East deployment which saw the crew seize over AU$2 billion of narcotics over the course of eight months.
In total, the Australian warship intercepted 16 vessels carrying illicit narcotics, seizing a total of around 31.8 tonnes of hashish and two tonnes of heroin valued at approximately $2.17 billion.
“This is the largest cumulative total ever seized by an Australian Major Fleet Unit, Australian defense minister Marise Payne said.
“I would like to thank the men and women of the RAN for their contribution to making a significant global difference to the distribution of unlawful drugs and illicit narcotics and protecting Australia’s national interests abroad.
Outgoing commanding officer HMAS Warramunga, Commander Dugald Clelland RAN, said the Anzac-class frigate’s contribution in disrupting narcotics smuggling in the region was significant.
“It has been a very successful deployment and the ship’s company is enormously proud of its achievements,” Commander Clelland said.
“Since arriving in the Middle East, our tasking has included counter-smuggling operations and working with our coalition partners to improve maritime security throughout the region.”
During the deployment, Warramunga also participated in exercises with French Navy and US Navy ships, and conducted an information exchange with the US Coast Guard.
Operations with the US Fifth Fleet as part of Task Force (TF) 50 and TF 55 included escort duties through the Strait of Hormuz and for US Ships Theodore Roosevelt and America during activities in the Gulf.
Commander Joint Task Force 633, Rear Admiral Jaimie Hatcher AM, RAN, said the Australian ship has made an important contribution to global counter-terrorism efforts as part of the multinational coalition of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).
“HMAS Warramunga’s achievements are exceptional. The success of her deployment builds upon the foundation of Navy’s commitment to the Middle East for nearly three decades,” Rear Admiral Hatcher said.
The ship’s company of close to 200 people will be reunited with their families at Fleet Base East, Sydney in the coming weeks.