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RAN seizes illegal drug shipments in Middle East

Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Ballarat has seized more than 900 kilograms of heroin worth about $279 million during two boarding operations between 21 and 23 December.

Ballarat conducted flag verification checks by boarding vessels of interest, under the direction of the Combined Maritime Forces’ (CMF) Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 in international waters in the Arabian Sea. The fishing vessels, known as dhows, were believed to be engaging in illegal activity.

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The boarding team discovered and seized illegal narcotics on both dhows; 165 kilograms of heroin was found on the first dhow, and 766 kilograms on a second. The drugs were transferred to Ballarat for disposal.

Commanding Officer of HMAS Ballarat, Commander Paul Johnson, said, "A thorough search by the boarding parties uncovered a large quantity of heroin intended for distribution around the world. By keeping these illegal narcotics out of the hands of those that exploit others, we improve the lives of those in the region."

Commander of Australian Forces in the Middle East, Rear Admiral Jaimie Hatcher, AM said, "These drug seizures support Australia's long-term mission to ensure maritime security, stability and prosperity in the region."

These are the first seizures Ballarat has made since starting operations in the Middle East region during November 2018 in support of Operation MANITOU.

HMAS Ballarat is the sixth of eight Anzac Class frigates built by Tenix Defence Systems at Williamstown, Victoria for the RAN. The design is based on the German MEKO 200 frigate.

Ballarat is a long-range frigate capable of air defence, surface and undersea warfare, surveillance, reconnaissance and interdiction. Ballarat's combat capabilities have been significantly improved under the Anti-Ship Missile Defence upgrade program, which provides an enhanced sensor and weapons systems capability.

RAN seizes illegal drug shipments in Middle East
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