Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Warramunga, with support from a United Kingdom Royal Navy helicopter, seized more than 3.5 tonnes of illicit narcotics during a night-time operation in the Arabian Sea on 3 January 2018 at around 0830 AEDT.
Warramunga intercepted and boarded the suspect vessel, under the direction of the Combined Maritime Forces Australian-led Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 in international waters after the vessel was assessed to be engaged in possible illegal activity.
The interdiction came just days after Warramunga, which commenced Middle East operations in November 2017, seized narcotics from three vessels over the period 27–29 December.
During the course of the operation, the United Kingdom's Royal Fleet Auxillary Fort Rosalie’s helicopter provided surveillance allowing Warramunga’s boarding party to locate and board the vessel.
The illegal narcotics are estimated to be valued at more than $181 million, taking Warramunga’s total seizures to more than 11.5 tonnes of hashish and 69 kg of heroin, valued at approximately $596 million.
Commanding Officer of Warramunga, Commander Dugald Clelland, said the operation was the result of a complex night operation conducted in close coordination with the crew of Fort Rosalie.
“The Royal Navy helicopter was able to cue us on to a suspect vessel, which Warramunga’s boarding party searched in challenging conditions,” Commander Clelland said.
“The boarding party did a first-rate job locating and seizing more than three-and-a-half tonnes of illicit narcotics.”
The Australian commander of Combined Task Force 150, Commodore Mal Wise, praised the close teamwork between Fort Rosalie and Warramunga.
“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 close cooperation assisted the crew of Warramunga in successfully seizing a substantial quantity of narcotics.
“This operation highlights the excellent cooperation shown by nations contributing to Combined Maritime Forces operations in the Middle East, which are making an impact on the flow of illegal narcotics that fund terrorist networks.”
Warramunga is currently deployed to the Middle East on Operation MANITOU, Australia’s commitment to maritime security and stability in the region including the Combined Maritime Forces.
A coalition of 32 nations, the Combined Maritime Forces conducts maritime security operations to ensure the free flow of legitimate commerce in the region and to deny the use of the high seas to terrorist and illicit non-state actors.