Australian Navy Seizes $1.7bn in Drugs

Australian Patrol Boat

Published Jul 10, 2015 9:35 AM by The Maritime Executive

In its sixth successful haul in eight weeks, Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Newcastle seized 139kg of heroin, with an estimated street value of around $AUD 41 million ($USD 30.4m), off the East coast of Africa.

Under the support of the 30-nation Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), the latest haul brings the Australian Navy’s total seizures in the Middle East region to an estimated street value of $AUD 2.3 billion ($USD 1.7bn) since February 2014. 

The latest haul was recovered during a routine verification boarding on July 3 when Newcastle intercepted a dhow using two rigid hull boats and discovered the narcotics hidden on board. After the drugs are weighed and recorded the navy disposed of them in the ocean.

So far this year HMAS Newcastle has seized 1.4 tons of heroin, valued at over $AUD 413 million ($USD 306.7m). However, the HMAS Melbourne another navy frigate still holds the value record, intercepting and detroying over $AUD 1.1 billion ($USD 820m) in drugs. 

Vice Admiral Johnston said this most recent seizure will have an extraordinary impact on the funding of terrorist organizations, which is where much of these illegal drug profits end up.

HMAS Newcastle’s Commanding Officer, Commander Dominic MacNamara, spoke of his crew’s impressive contribution to the CMF to date.

“The fact that we continue to be successful says much about the way the ship and supporting headquarters work together in order to achieve the results we have,” Commander MacNamara said.

The Newcastle is the youngest of four Adelaide Class Guided Missile Frigates (FFG). It was patrolling with the Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150), one of three details operated by the CMF.

Operation Manitou is Australia’s contribution to the CMF, which provides maritime security across more than 2.5 million square miles of international waters in the Middle East. The CMF operates in some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and focuses its efforts on combating terrorism and preventing piracy.