Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Arunta has seized more than 250kg of heroin hidden in a dhow transiting the North West Indian Ocean.

This seizure marks the second successful narcotics interdiction for Arunta since the frigate commenced its counter-terrorism mission as part of Combined Task Force 150 in December 2016. In March this year the warship seized 800kg of hashish.

Commanding Officer HMAS Arunta, Commander Cameron Steil RAN, said, “While the smugglers continue to try new techniques for hiding narcotics, our boarding parties have shown that their experience, training, and techniques are up to the task at hand.”

The Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft has repeatedly proven itself to be a key enabler in narcotics seizures. The aircraft combs the CTF 150 Area of Operation that spans over two million square miles searching for suspicious dhows. Information gathered on these patrols narrows the odds for ships like HMAS Arunta to intercept and board dhows across an ocean expanse twice as large as the Mediterranean Sea.

Rear Admiral Lebas, Commander CTF 150, said, “This narcotics seizure demonstrates the determination and professionalism of the captain and crew of HMAS Arunta. Units operating under the command of Combined Task Force 150 continue to remove significant quantities of narcotics from international markets, and so prevent criminal and terrorist organizations benefiting from the trade.”

CTF image 5Preparation for disposal.

HMAS Arunta is Australia’s major surface vessel contribution to Combined Maritime Forces and CTF 150.

Established in 2002, CTF 150 is primarily focused on disrupting terrorist organizations and their activities by denying them the freedom of manoeuvre in the maritime domain. In collaboration with international and regional maritime security partners, CTF 150 teams have seized and destroyed billions of dollars in drugs and captured thousands of weapons ensuring they are no longer available to organizations that would cause others harm.

Under a French lead, the staff of CTF 150 is the first combined French-UK command which operationalizes the French-UK naval co-operation under the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF). This framework was initiated in 2010 under the Lancaster House Agreement between Paris and London. The staff also includes officers from Belgium, Italy and Australia, and exercises command over ships and aircraft from several CMF participating nations.

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