Australian Navy frigate seizes heroin off African coast

Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Arunta interdicted 260kg of heroin in the north Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa on June 8.

This is the frigate’s third drug interception as part of operation Manitou.

The drugs were intercepted after the ship’s embarked Seahawk helicopter detected the suspicious dhow on June 7 during a planned surface search.

The Combined Maritime Forces French-led Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150) tasked the ship to board the dhow on 8 June as part of its maritime security and counter terrorism assignment.

Sailors conducted a thorough search to discover the drugs which were contained inside void spaces.

All the narcotics were destroyed at sea on June 12.

Commander Cameron Steil, commanding officer HMAS Arunta, praised the professionalism of his crew after conducting operations in difficult weather conditions.

Major General (MAJGEN) John Frewen, Commander Joint Task Force 633, said the latest interception by Arunta would assist in disrupting the funding streams of terrorist organisations.

“The hard work of HMAS Arunta combined with the personnel at multi-national Combined Task Force 150 is stemming the flow of drugs and contraband through Middle Eastern waters,” MAJGEN Frewen said.

This is the third successful intercept of drugs during Arunta’s deployment to the Middle East region for operation Manitou. The other seizures included 800kg of hashish on 3 March and a 250kg of heroin on 10 May.

HMAS Arunta is on her third deployment to the Middle East region and departed Australia in November 2017. The ship is the 64th rotation of a Royal Australian Navy vessel in the region since the first Gulf War in 1990.