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The crew of HMAS Darwin — under the leadership of a British-led combined taskforce, which is responsible for counter-terrorism operations in the Middle East — seized over 950kg of the deadly drug in total.

HMAS Darwin’s helicopter spotted the first suspicious vessel on May 21. With the support of a US-led Combined Maritime Force surveillance aircraft, a search of the boat uncovered 380kg of heroin.

Two more suspicious vessels were identified and intercepted on May 22 and May 25 — the second boat was carrying a staggering 512kg of heroin and the third has a stash weighing 60 kilograms.

Commander Phillip Henry, Commanding Officer Darwin, praised the work of the crew members, saying the operation would hit terrorist organisations hard.

“Traffickers constantly try to find new ways to hide cargo, but our boarding parties’ training, techniques and equipment evolve and we continue to find and dispose of seriously large quantities of illicit goods,” he said.

“The best part about our involvement in these operations is that we are able to remove a significant portion of funding from terrorist organisations.

“With the help of our CMF partners, both at sea and ashore, we have had tremendous success in tracking down suspicious vessels and uncovering drugs hidden away on several of them.

Chief of Joint Operations Vice Admiral David Johnston said the drug seizures raised the Royal Australian Navy’s total haul of narcotics to more than four tonnes since the start of Operation MANITOU.

“Darwin’s combined efforts under CTF-150 is a good example of how we are improving the overall maritime security, stability and prosperity in the region by denying terrorist organisations their ability to move personnel, weapons or drugs, and obstructing their capacity to raise funds,” he said.
“These seizures take the Royal Australian Navy’s total of narcotics interdicted to more than four tonnes since the start of Operation MANITOU,” Vice Admiral Johnston said.

Operation MANITOU is the current name for the Australian Government’s contribution to support international efforts to promote maritime security and stability in the Middle East

The seized drugs were disposed at sea in accordance with Australian policy.

The latest busts comes after HMAS Darwin’s boarding team uncovered and seized a large weapons cache including AK-47 assault rifles and rocket propelled grenade launchers — bound for Somalia — off the coast of Oman in March.

“These seizures take the Royal Australian Navy’s total of narcotics interdicted to more than four tonnes since the start of Operation MANITOU,” Vice Admiral Johnston said.

Operation MANITOU is the current name for the Australian Government’s contribution to support international efforts to promote maritime security and stability in the Middle East

The seized drugs were disposed at sea in accordance with Australian policy.

The latest busts comes after HMAS Darwin’s boarding team uncovered and seized a large weapons cache including AK-47 assault rifles and rocket propelled grenade launchers — bound for Somalia — off the coast of Oman in March.