HMAS Toowoomba intercepts second drug shipment
22 November 2014
For the second time in 72 hours, Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Toowoomba has intercepted a suspicious vessel carrying a large cargo of heroin in international waters off the East coast of Africa.
On 20 November 2014 the Australian warship discovered 324 kg of heroin, with an estimated Australian street value of $129.6 million, hidden in a dhow.
Commanding Officer Cath Hayes said her team in Toowoomba had done a highly professional, efficient and effective job making two heroin busts in 72 Hours.
“I am extremely proud of the combined efforts of each of the 191 members of Toowoomba’s Ship’s Company in achieving these recent two drug interdictions,” she said
“Once again our colleagues at Combined Task Force 150 and the Combined Maritime Forces worked with us making sure we were in the right place at the right time to strike and that is what we did recovering approximately 324 kg of Heroin.”
This is the second significant drug haul conducted by Toowoomba in the past three days.
Major General Craig Orme, AM, CSC, Commander Joint Task Force 633, congratulated the crew of HMAS Toowoomba on the seizure.
“Two hauls of this size in quick succession by HMAS Toowoomba demonstrates that the team works. Commander Cath Hayes and her crew have worked tirelessly with their coalition counterparts at Combined Maritime Force to maintain tactical patience to achieve operational success,” he said.
“Toowoomba’s 72 hours of drug seizures have resulted in over 712 kg of heroin with an estimated street value of almost AUD $285 million which is a significant disruption to the international drug trade and the subsequent flow of financial revenue to terrorist organisations. This is an excellent outcome for Toowoomba as the crew near the end of their deployment.”
Since September 2013, Toowoomba and her predecessor ships HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Darwin have seized drugs in excess of $AUD 3.508 billion in street value.
Petty Officer Craig Phelps, one of the members of Toowoomba’s Boarding Party, said the team executed a text book search of the suspect vessel which was both efficient and effective.
“The boarding was a fantastic effort from all involved, from the interdiction of the suspect dhow to the search and seizure of the narcotics, the whole process went off without a hitch.
The end result was the seizure of 324 kg of heroin that will not reach the streets” he said.
The drug seizure is part of a determined multi-national campaign to disrupt drug smuggling in the Indian Ocean, profits from which provide funding for known terrorist organisations.
Operation MANITOU, as part of Joint Task Force 633 (JTF633), is the Australian commitment to the Combined Maritime Force which contributes to the Indian Ocean’s security and the trade which flows through it which is important to global, regional and Australian strategic interests.
Commander Cath Hayes is the first female to command an Australian warship operating in the Middle East.
Imagery is available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20143591
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