HMAS Ballarat tallies fourth and fifth Middle East drug busts

HMAS Ballarat tallies fourth and fifth Middle East drug busts Image: Australian Department of Defence

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) frigate HMAS Ballarat has seized more than 2.1 tonnes of hashish and 345 kilograms of heroin in two recent boarding operations in the Arabian Sea.

The narcotics seizures, worth approximately A$105 million (US$76.24 million) and A$103.5 million (US$75.15 million), respectively, took place on January 28 and 29 as part of Operation Manitou.

Ballarat conducted the flag verification boardings following the observation of two fishing vessels, known as dhows, exhibiting suspicious behaviour.

The interdictions follow three previous seizures during Ballarat’s current deployment, totaling 931 kilograms of heroin in December 2018 and 3.1 tonnes of hashish in early January 2019.

Ballarat’s current nine-month deployment is her second to the Middle East and is the 67th rotation of an RAN vessel in the region since 1990.

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