HMAS Toowoomba has interdicted over 3,000 kilograms of illegal narcotics including hashish and heroin in the Gulf of Aden off Yemen and Somalia.
The Anzac Class frigate is deployed under Operation Manitou, Australia’s contribution to support international efforts to promote security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East region.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said this is the first seizure by HMAS Toowoomba since arriving in the Middle East over a month ago.
“The interdiction of these narcotics helps deny the financial pathway that terrorist organisations use to fund their criminal activities in the Middle East region,” Minister Reynolds said.
Terrorist groups such as al-Shabaab in Somalia and al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula supplement income through the trade of illegal goods, including narcotics and contraband.
“The crew of HMAS Toowoomba can be proud of their achievements and the support they are providing to the Combined Maritime Forces,” Minister Reynolds said.
“I also extend my thanks to the crew’s family and friends for continuing to support those on-board as they serve their nation.”
Commander Joint Task Force 633, Major General Susan Coyle, CSC, DSM, commended the personnel on-board Toowoomba.
“The smugglers’ ingenuity in hiding the sizeable amount of drugs was overcome by hard work and lateral thinking from these well-trained teams,” MAJGEN Coyle said.
“Sailors used specialised search techniques and equipment to discover the drugs which were contained inside void spaces, and all of the narcotics were subsequently destroyed at sea.”
The seizure took place on 19 March 2020 in support of the Combined Maritime Forces, an enduring multinational taskforce of 33 nations committed to disrupting terrorist organisations and illegal activities in the maritime domain.
During her deployment, HMAS Toowoomba is also working with international partners to monitor and deter destabilising activity and support the safe passage of commercial and civilian shipping under the International Maritime Security Construct.
This is the Royal Australian Navy’s 68th deployment to the Middle East region since 1990 and the sixth mission for HMAS Toowoomba.