Get to Know HMAS Newcastle’s Middle East Ops

During May and June Australian Navy’s HMAS Newcastle was patrolling with the Combined Maritime Forces in the Middle East region.

During the patrols, the ship’s company discovered more than 1305kg of narcotics in two boardings.

Now in the second half of her deployment, Newcastle has completed five successful seizures since starting patrols with Australia’s Operation MANITOU.

The Navy brings us a short story of the vessel’s mission during Operation WEBB ELLIS conducted under the command of Combined Task Force 150, an international maritime security and counter-terrorism effort in the Middle East led by the Combined Maritime Forces:

Dirty water wasn’t the only thing in the bilge of a dhow boarded by the crew of HMAS Newcastle on 12 May.

About 200kg of heroin was stashed below decks and seized by Newcastle’s boarding party after the suspect vessel was spotted from bridge earlier in the day.

Lieutenant Gideon Watson was the boarding officer in charge of the team who went aboard the vessel and conducted a full search.

It was during a check of the dhow’s bilge that Newcastle’s boarding party found something unusual.

Lieutenant Watson said:

The first thing we found was a bag that was not meant to be in the bilges at all. We pulled that bag out and behind it we found 16 others.

With the first one out we found smaller bags inside it that contained a white substance that was found to be heroin.

The crew took all 17 bags of heroin out of the bilge and started making plans to move it back to Newcastle.

The haul was the second heroin stash handled by Newcastle, who were called on 11 May to remove drugs a French crew discovered on a dhow.

Newcastle departed Australia for Operation MANITOU in early April as part of the Australian Defence Force contribution to support international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East region.

The primary goal of Operation MANITOU is to contribute to the Combined Maritime Forces, which is a 30-nation partnership focused on defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, encouraging regional cooperation and promoting a safe maritime environment.

Newcastle is on her fifth deployment to the region and is the 60th rotation of a Royal Australian Navy vessel since the first Gulf War in 1990.

Image: Australian Defence

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