The crew of HMAS Ballarat has stopped illegal narcotics in excess of $1 billion from funding terrorism and other illegal activity.
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The Australian Navy frigate recently seized over 12.9 tonnes of hashish, 1.4 tonnes of heroin and a small amount of methyl amphetamines, with a combined worth of $1.073 billion*.
The combined hauls were confiscated in 10 separate seizure operations, with the latest occurring on 10 May 2019. During this seizure, the boarding team took custody of over three tonnes of hashish with an estimated street value of $53 million*.
HMAS Ballarat has conducted 31 boardings since deploying to the Middle East on Operation Manitou in November 2018. Operation Manitou is the name for the Australian government's contribution to international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East.
This is the second deployment to the Middle East for HMAS Ballarat and the 67th rotation of a Royal Australian Navy vessel in the region since 1990. Commanding Officer of HMAS Ballarat, Commander Paul Johnson, said the ship’s company had contributed to the long history of Australia’s commitment to the Combined Maritime Forces in the Middle East.
"Our commitment safeguards our access to international trading routes and ensures we deal with threats before they become serious risks to Australia," CMDR Johnson said.
HMAS 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 provided an enhanced sensor and weapons systems capability.
*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 kilo (p215) and Heroin @ $300,000 per kilo (p216).