HMAS Arunta featuring Albatross helo makes another drug bust

HMAS Albatross Seahawk part of $36 million Middle East drug seizure

HMAS Arunta, which has a helicopter from HMAS Albatross onboard, has seized approximately 250 kilograms of heroin off the coast of Africa as part of Operation Manitou.

The Anzac class frigate intercepted the boat in the Indian Ocean on May 10 - her second narcotic interdiction since starting counter-terrorism operations in December last year.

Following detection by a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft, Arunta intercepted and boarded the suspect dhow as part of Combined Task Force 150 which is currently under French command, supported by a combined French-UK staff.

Onboard HMAS Arunta is a S-70B-2 Seahawk from 816 Squadron at Albatross.

In March the crew from Arunta bagged 800kg of hashish worth $36 million during its operations.

Arunta commanding officer, Commander Cameron Steil praised his crew’s professionalism and ability to conduct a meticulous search, which led to the drug seizure.

“While the smugglers continue to try new techniques for hiding narcotics, our boarding parties have shown that their experience, training, and techniques are up to the task at hand,” Commander Steil said.

Major General John Frewen, commander of Australian forces in the region, said the successful drug interception was a joint effort.

“Arunta’s second seizure, as part of the Combined Maritime Forces effort, will directly contribute to the overall maritime security, stability and prosperity in the region,” Major General Frewen said.

“This is a testament to their perseverance and hard work.”

Arunta is on its third deployment to the Middle East, as the 64th rotation of a RAN vessel in the region since 1990.

Operation Manitou is the Australian government's contribution to support international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East region.

Under Operation Manitou, Arunta is currently supporting the US-led Combined Maritime Force, a 31 nation partnership working within the region.

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