Nowra Seahawk helps stop drug smugglers

A NOWRA-BASED helicopter has played a key role in another million dollar drug seizure in the Middle East.

HMAS Darwin, which has just replaced the recently returned HMAS Melbourne in the area, seized and destroyed more than three tonnes of cannabis resin with an estimated street value of $137 million dollars.

The drugs were found hidden aboard a skiff in the Gulf of Aden.

Darwin’s S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopter from 816 Squadron at HMAS Albatross located a dhow manoeuvring suspiciously and had the warship track the vessel into the night where the crew observed what appeared to be a transfer from the dhow to a skiff. 

After an hour-long high-speed chase, HMAS Darwin intercepted the skiff and the boarding party discovered 3012 kilograms of cannabis resin in 151 sacks, each containing approximately 20 kilograms of hashish. 

This latest seizure follows HMAS Melbourne’s detection of more than $1 billion worth of drugs on its recent deployment as part of Operation Slipper, patrolling in the Middle East Area of Operations. 

HMAS Darwin’s commanding officer Commander Terry Morrison said the guidance and direction of the Australian-led Combined Task Force 150 and meticulous observation of suspicious activity was key to the seizure.

“We have removed these drugs from potential terrorist funding networks and demonstrated the effectiveness of the coalition effort,” Commander Morrison said.

This seizure comes just nine days after HMAS Darwin worked closely with the French Navy to intercept and destroy approximately 650 kilograms of cannabis resin, while a week before the ship had worked with Pakistan to save 13 fishermen shipwrecked and adrift for five days in international waters. 

HAUL: Petty Officer Matthew McDonald signals the crane operator aboard HMAS Darwin to hoist a bag filled with illegal narcotics seized from a skiff in the Arabian Sea. 

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