Arunta proves her worth in Middle East

This article has photo gallery Published on Department of Defence Media Release (author), ABIS Steven Thomson (photographer)

Topic(s): Operation MANITOU, HMAS Arunta (F151), Drug interdiction, Counter-piracy, Counter-terrorism, Deployment

HMAS Arunta personnel prepare to destroy illegal narcotics seized on 8 June 2017 while the ship was on patrol in the Middle East region. (photo: ABIS Steven Thomson)
HMAS Arunta personnel prepare to destroy illegal narcotics seized on 8 June 2017 while the ship was on patrol in the Middle East region.

HMAS Arunta has completed a third significant narcotics interdiction after seizing 260 kilograms of heroin in the north Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa as part of Operation MANITOU.
The Royal Australian Navy frigate intercepted the vessel after the ship’s embarked Seahawk helicopter detected the suspicious dhow on 7 June during a planned surface search. 
The ship was tasked to board the dhow on 8 June as part of its maritime security and counter terrorism assignment under the Combined Maritime Forces in the region.
Sailors conducted a thorough search to discover the drugs which were contained inside void spaces.
Commanding Officer Commander Cameron Steil, praised the professionalism of his crew after conducting operations in difficult weather conditions.
Arunta’s skilled personnel worked throughout the night and in difficult conditions and have once again prevailed in disrupting narcotics smuggling activities in the Middle East region,” Commander Steil said.
“This success can be fully attributed to the dedication and professionalism of the ship’s company who have continued to set a high standard of operational competence.
“This is what we train for and we are proud to have done the job well in support of the Combined Maritime Forces’ mission to counter terrorism.”
Head of the Australian forces in the region, Major General John Frewen, Commander Joint Task Force 633, said the latest interception by Arunta would assist in disrupting the funding streams of terrorist organisations.
“The hard work of HMAS Arunta combined with the personnel at multi-national task force is stemming the flow of drugs and contraband through Middle Eastern waters,” Major General Frewen said.
“The interception of these narcotics helps deny the financial pathway that terrorists use to fund their criminal activities in the Middle East and throughout the world.
“HMAS Arunta has an excellent reputation within the Combined Maritime Forces as being tenacious and meticulous in their pursuit of illegal cargoes and the discovery of these concealed drugs show how well trained, equipped and motivated our personnel are.”
All the narcotics were destroyed at sea on 12 June. 
This is the third successful intercept of drugs during Arunta's deployment. The other seizures included 800 kilograms of hashish on 3 March and 250 kilograms of heroin on 10 May. 
Arunta is on her third deployment to the Middle East region and departed Australia in November 2017.
The ship is the 64th rotation of a Royal Australian Navy vessel in the region since 1990.