After a seven-and-a-half month deployment in the Middle East region, Anzac frigate HMAS Warramunga is returning to Australia having seized a record amount of illicit narcotics.
Defence Minister Marise Payne announced the vessel is returning to Australia having completed one of the Australian Navy's most successful operations.
During the deployment, the Australian warship intercepted 16 vessels carrying illicit narcotics, seizing a total of around 31.8 tonnes of hashish and two tonnes of heroin valued at approximately $2.17 billion*.
"This is the largest cumulative total ever seized by an Australian Major Fleet Unit," Minister Payne said.
"I would like to thank the men and woman of the RAN for their contribution to making a significant global difference to the distribution of unlawful drugs and illicit narcotics and protecting Australia’s national interests abroad."
Outgoing Commanding Officer HMAS Warramunga, Commander Dugald Clelland RAN, said the Anzac Class frigate’s contribution in disrupting narcotics smuggling in the region was significant.
"It has been a very successful deployment and the ship’s company is enormously proud of its achievements," CMDR Clelland said.
"Since arriving in the Middle East, our tasking has included counter-smuggling operations and working with our coalition partners to improve maritime security throughout the region."
During the deployment, Warramunga also participated in exercises with French Navy and US Navy ships, and conducted an information exchange with the US Coast Guard.
Operations with the US Fifth Fleet as part of Task Force (TF) 50 and TF 55 included escort duties through the Strait of Hormuz and for US Ships Theodore Roosevelt and America during activities in the Gulf.
Commander Joint Task Force 633, Rear Admiral Jaimie Hatcher AM said the Australian ship has made an important contribution to global counter-terrorism efforts as part of the multinational coalition of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).
"HMAS Warramunga’s achievements are exceptional. The success of her deployment builds upon the foundation of Navy’s commitment to the Middle East for nearly three decades," RADM Hatcher said.
The ship’s company of close to 200 people will be reunited with their families at Fleet Base East, Sydney in the coming weeks.
Operation Manitou is the Australian Defence Force contribution to support international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and the free flow of legitimate maritime commerce in the Middle East region.
Warramunga regularly operated as part of the CMF, a 32-nation partnership focused on defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, encouraging regional co-operation and promoting a safe maritime environment. Warramunga mainly conducted counter-terrorism and maritime security operations for Combined Task Force 150, a CMF task force.
This was Warramunga’s third deployment to the Middle East and the 66th rotation of a RAN vessel in the region since 1990.
Summary of vessels interdicted with drugs by Warramunga:
• 27—29 December 2017: 8 tonnes hashish, 69kg heroin, (three vessels interdicted over this period)
• 3 January 2018: hashish, 3.5 tonnes
• 7 January 2018: heroin, 111kg
• 24 January 2018: heroin, 915kg
• 1 February 2018: heroin, 414kg
• 3 March 2018: hashish, 4 tonnes
• 4 March 2018: hashish, 4 tonnes
• 6 March 2018: heroin, 132kg
• 10 May 2018: heroin, 295kg
• 21 May 2018: hashish, 3 tonnes
• 22 May 2018: hashish, 3.2 tonnes
• 3 June 2018: hashish, 3.3 tonnes
• 4 June 2018: hashish, 2.6 tonnes
• 5 June 2018: hashish, 40kg
*Note: This calculation is a based on the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission Illicit Drug Data Report 2015-16 figures for Cannabis Resin (Hashish) @ $50,000 per kilogram (p215) and Heroin @ $300,000 per kilogram (p216).