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Royal Australian ship interdicts 800 kg of narcotics in Arabian Sea

By U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs | March 03, 2017

MANAMA, Bahrain --

Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Arunta seized more than 800 kg of hashish while conducting maritime security operations as part of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 under the U.S.-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) after conducting a flag verification boarding of a suspicious fishing vessel in the Arabian Sea, March 2.

“There were numerous suspicious elements regarding this vessel and subsequently we conducted a thorough search” said Royal Australian Navy Cmdr. Cameron Steil, commanding officer of Arunta. “Narcotic smuggling is well known in this area with the smugglers always trying to find new ways to hide cargo but our boarding parties’ training, techniques and equipment are of the highest standard.”


The ANZAC-class frigate made the seizure as part of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, which was the first intercept of narcotics since December. The Canadian-led CTF 150 is one of three task forces under CMF.


“Our combined efforts under CTF 150 improve the overall maritime security, stability and prosperity in the region by denying terrorist organizations the ability to move personnel, weapons or narcotics and obstructing their capacity to raise funds,” said Steil.


Maj. Gen. John Frewen, commander of Joint Task Force 633 in charge of Royal Australian Navy assets deployed in the Middle East, said the successful drug interception was the culmination of significant work the ship has undertaken as part of CMF.


“Arunta has already gained a reputation as being professional and meticulous in its pursuit of contraband items,” said Frewen.


The interdicted hashish, a cannabis product, has an estimated value of $36 million according to the Australian Crime Commission.


“It’s due to the tenacity of the ship’s captain and crew that illegal cargo like this seizure of hashish don’t make it to their final destination, and that they do not enable funding for terrorist organizations,”  said Royal Canadian Navy Cdre. Haydn Edmundson, CTF 150 commander. “We, the CTF 150 team, are very proud of Arunta and her fine crew.”


“HMAS Arunta resumed her patrol on completion of the boarding and continues to operate in the area working with other navies as part of the 31-nation Combined Maritime Forces to ensure the free flow of commerce and maritime security for all who use the sea legally,” said Royal Navy Cdre. William Warrender, deputy commander of CMF. “It is very much our desire that this success leads to more seizures of illicit cargo.”


Established in 2002, the mission of CTF 150 is to promote maritime security in order to counter terrorist acts and related illegal activities used by terrorists to fund or conceal their movements. As part of the 31-nation partnership of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), CTF 150 contributes to the overall focus of defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, encouraging regional cooperation and promoting a safe maritime environment.