Australian frigate HMAS Warramunga has continued its record streak of major drug busts in the Indian Ocean seizing a further 915kg of heroin.
The vessel is currently deployed to the Indian Ocean under Operation Manitou which is the Australian contribution to maritime security and stability in the Middle East as is operating under the multinational Combined Task Force 150 which has been led by Australia since last December. Earlier this month the vessel gained media attention for its first major bust conducted with the Royal Navy.
This latest operation was jointly undertaken by forces from both Australia and New Zealand. A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 maritime patrol aircraft first identified a suspicious vessel in the Western Indian Ocean on 23rd January and directed the Warramunga onto it to conduct a boarding the following day.
“The RNZAF P-3 was able to identify the vessel and direct us to a successful boarding resulting in the seizure of a very significant quantity of illegal narcotics,” Commander Dugald Clelland, Commanding Officer of HMAS Warramunga, said praising the team effort between close partners.
The latest bust included 915 kilograms of heroin which the Australian government gave an estimated street value in excess of AU$274 million or £157 million. This brings the Warramunga’s total over the past two months up to 11.5 tonnes of hashish and over one tonne of heroin, with a combined street value in excess of AU$900 million or £515 million. Sales from these substances could be used to fund terrorist activities across the region and globally, as such all seized narcotics have been destroyed by the navy and disposed of at sea.
The commanding officer of Australian forces in the Middle East, Rear Admiral Jaimie Hatcher, RAN, praised the crews involved and said it demonstrated the effectiveness of multinational cooperation to improve maritime security in the region.
“Warramunga has now interdicted six vessels carrying illegal narcotics since November,” Rear Admiral Hatcher said.
“This operation highlights the important role played by partner nations, as part of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), in increasing maritime security in the Middle East and Western Indian Ocean,” he said.