HMAS Arunta has continued her tradition of successful deployments to the Middle East by seizing more than 800kg of hashish during maritime security operations.
Arunta was patrolling in the Arabian Sea and her specialist boarding team located the drugs hidden in a consignment of coffee. The drugs have an estimated street value of approximately $36 million according to Australian Crime Commission figures.
Commanding Officer, Commander Cameron Steil said it was the ship’s first successful intercept since starting her rotation in December.
“There were numerous suspicious elements regarding this vessel, we conducted a thorough search,” he said.
“Narcotic smuggling is well known in this area with the smugglers always trying to find new ways to hide cargo but our boarding parties’ training, techniques and equipment are of the highest standard," Commander Steil said.
The 31-nation Combined Maritime Forces in the region are tasked to improve overall maritime security, stability and prosperity by denying terrorist organisations the ability to move personnel, weapons or narcotics and obstructing their capacity to raise funds.
Head of Australian forces in the Middle East, Major General John Frewen, said the successful drug interception was the culmination of significant work the ship had undertaken as part of the Combined Maritime Forces, a partnership built on defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, encouraging regional cooperation and promoting a safe maritime environment.
“Arunta has already gained a reputation as being professional and meticulous in pursuit of contraband items,” Major General Frewen said.
Arunta is an Anzac class frigate which has previously deployed to the region in 2002, for which she received battle honours ‘Persian Gulf’, and again in 2007. This time she will be undertaking extended duty with a nine month rotation. The Australian Navy is no stranger to the region with this the 64th rotation since 1990.
For more information on the ship with the motto ‘conquer or die’ visit http://www.navy.gov.au/hmas-arunta-ii