HMAS Warramunga has completed another two intercepts of drugs smuggling vessels, bringing its total haul seized up to AU$1.43 billion (£800 million) since arriving in the Middle East last November.
As the UK Defence Journal has previously reported, the vessel first attracted media attention after starting its tour with major busts in December and January. After these latest seizures Warramunga has now taken 19.5 tonnes of hashish and 1.5 tonnes of heroin out of the hands of drug smugglers who can use the proceeds to support terrorist activities
The latest busts occured on the 3rd March when the vessel’s embarked Seahawk helicopter detected a vessel of interest while on a surveillance patrol. A boarding party was immediately despatched and upon searching the vessel uncovered 4.1 tonnes of illicit cargo.
While monitoring this boarding the Seahawk then detected a second vessel of interest, which was then also boarded uncovering an additional 3.9 tonnes of illegal narcotics.
The seized narcotics were transferred to Warramunga where, after the obligatory photoshoot with the haul, they will be disposed of at sea.
Warramunga’s Commanding Officer, COmmander Dugald Clelland, said he has been continually impressed with the crew’s determination and professionalism.
“This has been a high tempo deployment for HMAS Warramunga but we have been fortunate in seeing significant quantities of narcotics not reach their final destination as a result of the efforts of the crew and the CTF 150 team,” he said.
“Preventing the movement of these narcotics not only potentially saves lives; it also deprives terrorist and other criminal organisations of $1.43 billion in revenue, which allows us to degrade the effectiveness of these organisations.”
The senior Australian naval officer in the Middle East, Rear Admiral Jaimie Hatcher, AM, RAN, said the achievements of Warramunga and her crew reflect a longstanding legacy of success by the RAN in the region.
“This is the 66th rotation of a Royal Australian Navy vessel in the region since 1990 and the continual successes of Warramunga during her rotation builds upon the foundation of commitment our Navy has shown to the region for nearly three decades,” Rear Admiral Hatcher said.
Since December, Australia has held the rotational command of CTF 150, the multinational naval mission to secure the region.