HMAS Melbourne intercepts drug dhows in the Middle East Area of Operations

This article has photo gallery Published on Australian Defence Force (author)

Location(s): Arabian Sea

Suspicious dhow being boarded by members of a boarding party from HMAS Melbourne in the North Arabian Sea. (photo: ABIS Jayson Tufrey)
Suspicious dhow being boarded by members of a boarding party from HMAS Melbourne in the North Arabian Sea.

Australian personnel onboard HMAS Melbourne have seized and destroyed amphetamines valued at approximately $11.3 million during two separate boardings over the past week in the Arabian Sea as part of the Combined Maritime Forces.

Approximately $6.2 million of amphetamines was discovered during the first boarding on 13 December 2013 and a further quantity valued at $5.1 million was found when a second vessel was boarded on 16 December 2013. 

On both occasions, a boarding party from HMAS Melbourne conducted a search of the dhows during which they discovered and then destroyed suspected narcotics.

Commander Brian Schlegel, Commanding Officer HMAS Melbourne, praised the professionalism of the Melbourne boarding teams during the two operations.

“The boarding party, operations team, flight crew and for that matter all of the Ship’s Company conducted themselves in a highly professional manner during these boarding operations,” Commander Schlegel said.

“The Ship’s Company can be proud that within a week we have made two drug seizures, the first was 9.8kg of amphetamines and today we have seized another 8kg.”

On both occasions the Royal Australian Navy boarding parties identified the suspicious substances during standard security sweeps and conducted tests onboard that returned positive readings for amphetamine-based substances.

Melbourne’s team seized the suspected narcotics, took samples for further analysis and destroyed the remainder. Samples will be provided to counter narcotics authorities.

Suspected illegal drugs from a suspicious dhow, on board HMAS Melbourne in the North Arabian Sea.

Suspected illegal drugs from a suspicious dhow, on board HMAS Melbourne in the North Arabian Sea.

Commodore Daryl Bates, AM, RAN, the Australian Commander of Combined Task Force 150 commended Melbourne’s efforts and the other nations involved including the US Navy P-3C aircraft and Canadian ship HMCS Toronto.

“This removal of another 8kg of amphetamines, combined with the 9.8 kg seized last Thursday, will impact the funding network of the terrorist organisations that rely on these shipments for income,” Commodore Daryl Bates said.

“These interceptions prove how valuable the Australian contribution is to the Combined Maritime Forces.”

 “The successful outcome of this highly complex operation, involving multiple military units from three separate countries including the United States and Canada is testimony to the effectiveness of the 29-nation Combined Maritime Forces and the important role it plays.” 

Combined Task Force 150 is one of three principle task forces operated by Combined Maritime Forces, a 29-nation coalition based in Bahrain.

HMAS Melbourne is deployed on Operation SLIPPER on patrol in the Middle Eastern Area of Operations under tasking to the Combined Maritime Forces. Melbourne’s role, and the role of Combined Task Force 150, is to conduct maritime security and interdiction operations in support of deterring terrorism and promoting peace and security in the maritime regions of the Middle East.

Hindi Interpreter, Able Seaman Marine Technician Sumeet Sewak (Centre), with both boarding officers (left) Lieutenant Mathew Hawker and Lieutenant Shane Savy with seized drugs on board HMAS Melbourne in the North Arabian Sea.

Hindi Interpreter, Able Seaman Marine Technician Sumeet Sewak (Centre), with both boarding officers (left) Lieutenant Mathew Hawker and Lieutenant Shane Savy with seized drugs on board HMAS Melbourne in the North Arabian Sea.

Imagery available for download at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20132581