HMAS Melbourne’s crew has seized 427 kilograms of heroin hidden in a fishing dhow carrying the illegal drugs across the Indian Ocean.
The intercept occurred during Melbourne’s first patrol of her current Operation MANITOU deployment to the Middle East region assigned to the multinational Combined Maritime Forces.
Illegal narcotics are a common source of funding for terrorist organisations and HMAS Melbourne’s Commanding Officer, Commander Bill Waters, said the drugs had an estimated Australian street value of at least AUD$126 million.
“In 2015, Australian ships have seized nearly two tonnes of heroin while deployed to Middle Eastern waters,” he said.
“This latest intercept shows our continuing vigilance is essential in the fight against terrorism.
“The entire crew has worked tirelessly for a result of which we are extremely proud.”
The crew of HMAS Melbourne observed the dhow operating suspiciously and a boarding party via seaboat to conduct a routine boarding.
Interviews with the dhow’s crew raised suspicion that it was involved in some form of illegal activity.
A subsequent search of the vessel, uncovered the heroin.
The drugs were transferred from the dhow to Melbourne where they were analysed and destroyed.
Vice Admiral David Johnston, Chief of Joint Operations, welcomed Melbourne's effort in the Middle East.
“Melbourne is on her eighth deployment to the Middle East Region and is the 61st rotation of a Royal Australian Navy vessel in the region since the first Gulf War in 1990,” he said.
“The ship was highly successful on the previous deployment which culminated in narcotics interceptions valued at about $1.2 billion over the course of the mission that concluded in February last year.
“Our ongoing efforts in the maritime environment to intercept the trafficking of drugs are key to disrupting the business model of terrorist organisations who use narcotics to fund their illegal activities.”
Royal Australian Navy ships assigned to the Combined Maritime Forces for maritime security operations do so under Operation MANITOU, the operational name for Australia’s contribution to maritime security in the Middle East Region.
Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20152785.