HMAS Darwin has seized and destroyed more than three tonnes of cannabis resin with an estimated street value of $137 million dollars.
The drugs were found hidden aboard a skiff in the Gulf of Aden on 16 March 2014.
HMAS Darwin is currently deployed on patrol under the control of the Combined Maritime Forces and the Australian-led Combined Task Force 150.
HMAS Darwin’s embarked S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopter located a dhow manoeuvring suspiciously. HMAS Darwin continued to track the dhow into the night and observed what appeared to be a transfer from the dhow to a skiff.
After an hour-long high-speed chase before dawn, HMAS Darwin intercepted the skiff. The boarding party discovered 3012 kilograms of cannabis resin in 151 sacks, each containing approximately 20 kilograms of hashish.
HMAS Darwin’s Commanding Officer, Commander Terry Morrison, said the guidance and direction of the Australian-led Combined Task Force 150 and meticulous observation of suspicious activity was key to the seizure.
“Today we removed these drugs from potential terrorist funding networks and demonstrated the effectiveness of the coalition effort,” Commander Morrison said.
This seizure comes only nine days after HMAS Darwin worked closely with the French Navy to intercept and destroy approximately 650 kilograms of cannabis resin.
A week before that HMAS Darwin worked with Pakistan to save 13 fishermen shipwrecked and adrift for five days in international waters.
The Australian Commander of CTF 150, Commodore Daryl Bates, AM, said the seizure sent a strong message to narcotics smugglers that the Indian Ocean region was not an easy target.
“CTF 150 warships have intercepted over 12.5 tonnes of hashish, nearly three tonnes of heroin and several shipments of methamphetamine in the past 12 months,” Commodore Bates said.
“These are not small amounts by anyone’s standards and it is clear that the terrorist networks that these activities fund are feeling the effect of our success.”
HMAS Darwin is deployed on Operation SLIPPER, on patrol in the Middle East Area of Operations, a part of Joint Task Force 633 under tasking to the Combined Maritime Forces.
Darwin’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.
Combined Task Force 150 is one of three principal task forces operated by Combined Maritime Forces, a 30-nation coalition based in Bahrain. CTF 150’s area of operation and responsibility spans more than 2.5 million square miles, covering the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman.
More imagery is available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20140606.