Four successful drug interdictions by HMAS Ballarat

This article has photo gallery Published on Department of Defence (author), LSIS Bradley Darvill (photographer)

Topic(s): Operation MANITOU, HMAS Ballarat (F155), Drug interdiction

Able Seaman Electronic Warfare Justin Springer, left, and Leading Seaman Marine Technician Daniel Colliver remove sacks containing suspected narcotics during a search of a suspicious dhow by HMAS Ballarat's boarding party. (photo: LSIS Bradley Darvill)
Able Seaman Electronic Warfare Justin Springer, left, and Leading Seaman Marine Technician Daniel Colliver remove sacks containing suspected narcotics during a search of a suspicious dhow by HMAS Ballarat's boarding party.

Royal Australian Navy Frigate HMAS Ballarat has seized another four illicit drug shipments in three days while deployed to the Middle East region.

The four boardings took place over the period 2-5 June 2019, as Ballarat conducted a routine patrol in the Arabian Sea in support of the Combined Maritime Forces.

The drug seizures included a large quantity of hashish and illegal narcotics weighing a combined total of 5.8 tonnes or a haul similar in size to five family-sized motor vehicles.

The suspicious vessels, known as a dhows, were believed to be engaging in illegal activity when Ballarat conducted the boardings under the authority of the Combined Task Force 150.

Commanding Officer, HMAS Ballarat, Commander Paul Johnson, said the routine boardings are essential to achieving maritime security in the region.

“Our goal is to disrupt the sources of funding for terrorism and deny the narcotics trade in the Middle East.” he said.

“In support of the Combined Maritime Forces we aggressively pursued a number of vessels, which had shown signs of smuggling illegal narcotics.

“The team have been working hard to track, intercept and board these vessels in some difficult conditions.

The recent hauls now brings the total number of seizures by HMAS Ballarat to 14 during her nine-month deployment to the region since October 2018.

Operation MANITOU is the Australian Government's contribution to support international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East.

An enhanced security environment ensures Australia's safe and open access to the region while fostering trade and commerce and a rules based global order.