Australian-led Combined Task Force seizes drug shipment
19 March 2013
The Royal Australian Navy-led Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150) directed the boarding of two vessels identified as carrying approximately 1500kg of cannabis in the Gulf of Oman on 15 March 2013.
CTF150’s Australian commander, Commodore Charles McHardie, said a helicopter from the Royal Navy vessel Her Majesty’s Ship (HMS) Northumberland observed the crews jettisoning their cargo as Northumberland approached as part of counter-terrorism operations.
HMS Northumberland intercepted and searched the suspect vessels on the high seas in the Gulf of Oman and recovered and seized 120 kg of cargo from the vessel and the sea. The combination of cannabis jettisoned by the crew and destroyed by HMS Northumberland was assessed as 1500kg.
Commodore Charles McHardie said that a disruption of this size proves the mission is helping deny potential funding for terrorist organisations.
“This successful seizure by HMS Northumberland was achieved through the hard work and on going co-operation of CMF’s (Combined Maritime Forces) partner nations,” Commodore McHardie said.
“I was advised that the estimated 1500 kg of cannabis involved has a street value of up to US$7.5 million.
“The destruction of this cargo ensures that it will not fund the activities of extremists.
“The boarding was conducted in accordance with international law as the vessels were of unknown nationality.”
CTF 150, a combined Australian and Canadian staff, works with Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and other agencies to coordinate maritime security operations across their area of operations.
Commodore McHardie is the fourth Royal Australian Navy Officer to command CTF150 which is one of three task forces commanded by CMF involving 27 nations in the naval partnership.
The CMF mission is to promote security, stability and prosperity across the Arabian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. The area encompasses some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.
He said this seizure represents another small step towards ensuring a secure maritime environment for legitimate mariners in the region and HMS Northumberland can be proud of her achievement.
The Australian warship HMAS Toowoomba is also assigned to CMF while deployed to the Middle East and is currently tasked to support CTF150 operations.
HMAS Toowoomba’s presence contributes to inter-operability of CMF nations and demonstrated CMF resolve to maintain safe access to vital international waterways by deterring terrorist activities and acts of piracy.
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Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999