A joint operation by British auxiliary RFA Fort Rosalie and the Australian frigate HMAS Warramunga has seen over 3.5 tonnes of illicit narcotics seized in the Arabian Sea.

The vessels, operating under the auspices of the multinational Combined Task Force 150, conducted the seizure in international waters on the night of the 2-3 January following intelligence reports that the vessel was suspected of possible illegal activities. A Sea King was also involved and is pictured above.

The boarding was conducted by sailors from the Warramunga who were guided to the target by Fort Rosalie’s Sea King helicopter which then provided surveillance cover.

Warramunga CO Commander Dugald Clelland described the conditions for the boarding as “challenging” and praised his boarding party for conducting a “first-rate job locating and seizing more than three-and-a-half tonnes of illicit narcotics.”

CTF 150 Commander, Australian Commodore Mal Wise, added his praise highlighting the teamwork demonstrated by the British and Australian crews.

“In this challenging maritime environment, the Royal Navy Rotary Wing asset from Fort Rosalie was essential to locating the suspect vessel,” Commodore Wise said.

“This operation highlights the excellent cooperation shown by nations contributing to CMF operations in the Middle East, which are making an impact on the flow of illegal narcotics that fund terrorist networks.”

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“Thanks to the skill and professionalism of Britain’s Armed Forces, working with key allies like the Australians, we are keeping our citizens safe by tackling the evil international drugs trade that funds terrorism.

I am incredibly grateful that we have the best service men and women in the world who always go the extra mile, whether they are protecting us from harm or saving precious wildlife like this family of turtles.”

The Flight Commander, Lieutenant Commander Dan Breward Royal Navy said:

“We’re delighted to have been able to contribute to CTF 150’s missions within the joint operations area. There was a massive effort from all parties involved from both Fort Rosalie and, ultimately, Warramunga.

As long as drugs and weapons continue to be trafficked to aid terrorism, we will be here with the coalition members to stop them; we have a track record that we aim to build upon.”

17 COMMENTS

  1. Wooden Dhow detected at long range in rough seas? If so a good advert for the Searchwater radar.
    Seems to me this model of hosting helicopters on RFA mother ships is what the RN have in mind for how the River 2s might be used in anti piracy duties.

    • From the description in this article though, what was the Sea King doing that a drone such as the Schiebel S-100 with suitable surveillance payload couldn’t have done? OK, the SK radar is clearly more sophisticated but would something like Thales I-Master have been sufficient for this type of operation?

      I ask because an S-100 fits in a standard ISO container and the River B2s can stow an ISO container either side of their crane without encroaching on the flight deck so with such a solution, if S-100 + I-Master is up to the job, a River B2 could host its own airborne surveillance capability without needing to tie up an RFA vessel.

      • Fair question. Without knowing the details it’s difficult to say. Technology is certainly improving all the time and there might come a point when it is more efficient for a R2 to have its own organic airborne surveillance. According to the Thales web site the I-master Maritime radar has a detection range ( subject to sea conditions) of 56 miles. Cant find any info but I suspect Searchwater is considerably better in terms of range and sea conditions. Also the Sea King will be able to fly higher and search a larger area more quickly. And I note that the Warramungas own SH-60R was not really suited to the task.
        Son’t know which version is carried by the Sea Kings but I believe the latest Searchwater radar was intended for Nimrod Mk4 and is pretty impressive.

  2. Not a bad effort for a poor man’s AEW platform. These aircraft although significantly updated from the original 1982 model reinforce that a gold plated defence capability is not always required to the job. They have served with distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan in support of land forces with little understanding or recognition by Politicians or general public. A truly remarkable aircraft and a credit to the FAA personnel. What we need now is the 8 Merlin aircraft held in storage to be fitted permanently with Crowsnest and not a number of kits carried on the ship.

  3. Maybe the turtles were being used as mules, whilst the other half of the turtle family risked being turned into turtle soup by the traffickers. Great save either way !

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