Australian frigate seizes 900 kilos of heroin in Middle East

Anzac-class frigate HMAS Ballarat seized over 900 kilos of heroin in two separate interceptions in the Middle East, the Royal Australian Navy has announced.

In two boarding operations on December 21 and 23, the frigate’s crew seized approximately AU$279 million worth of narcotics as part of the ship’s operation Manitou deployment.

Ballarat conducted flag verification checks by boarding vessels of interest, under the direction of the Combined Maritime Forces’ (CMF) Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 in international waters in the Arabian Sea. The fishing vessels, known as dhows, were believed to be engaging in illegal activity.

The boarding team discovered and seized illegal narcotics on both dhows. 165 kilos of heroin was found on the first dhow, and 766 kg on a second. The drugs were transferred to Ballarat for disposal.

HMAS Ballarat’s boarding party conducts a flag verification boarding on a suspicious dhow. Photo: Royal Australian Navy


Commanding officer of HMAS Ballarat, Commander Paul Johnson, said: “A thorough search by the boarding parties uncovered a large quantity of heroin intended for distribution around the world. By keeping these illegal narcotics out of the hands of those that exploit others, we improve the lives of those in the region.”

“The crew is well prepared for these activities and I am glad that they have been able to showcase their professionalism in supporting security in this complex maritime environment”.

These are the first seizures Ballarat has made since starting operations in the Middle East Region during November 2018 in support of operation Manitou.

Photo: HMAS Ballarat’s boarding party layout suspected narcotics found during a boarding on Dec 21-22, 18. Photo: Royal Australian Navy