HMAS Melbourne foils another heroin shipment

The crew of the Royal Australian Navy’s guided missile frigate HMAS Melbourne made their fifth drug seizure in Operation Manitou as they seized around 65kg of heroin from a dhow in the Indian Ocean.

The hidden drugs were discovered when Melbourne’s boarding party searched a suspect vessel during Melbourne’s last maritime security patrol with the multinational Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) before handing over to HMAS Darwin and returning to Australia.

The heroin was seized and transported onboard HMAS Melbourne for further analysis before it was disposed at sea.

Specialised equipment onboard the frigate identified the drugs as mid-grade heroin valued at approximately $50M AUD (based on Australian Crime Commission figures and revised for purity).

The latest seizure brings Melbourne’s total haul of heroin intercepted for this deployment to just under a tonne (977 kg).

Commander Bill Waters, Commanding Officer of HMAS Melbourne, said: “We approached this boarding like we did for our first boarding of the deployment. The entire ship remained focussed and our results bear witness to their abilities. I am very pleased with the achievements of the Ship’s Company over the entire deployment and thankful to all at CMF for placing us in the right place at the right time to undertake this boarding.”

Melbourne is conducting maritime security operations with the CMF as part of the Australian-led Combined Task Force 150 (CTF150), one of several Task Forces assigned to CMF. Melbourne’s operations encompass the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf during her deployment in the Middle East Region.

CTF150 undertakes maritime security patrols in the region to counter maritime related terrorism and to intercept the trafficking of drugs and illicit cargoes that help fund international terrorist activities.

This is Melbourne’s eighth deployment to the Middle East Region and the 61st for the Royal Australian Navy since the Gulf War in 1991.