The Royal Australian Navy Anzac-class frigate HMAS Toowoomba has interdicted over 3000 kilograms of illegal narcotics while on operations in the Gulf of Aden earlier this month.

According to a Navy news release, the frigate seized the drug, a mixture of hashish and heroin, while deployed in the area as part of Operation Manitou, Australia’s contribution to support international efforts to promote security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East Region.

The drugs were seized by a boarding party from the Toowoomba (pictured above) while hidden in a small seagoing vessel called a dhow, which are common in the waters of the region. This is the first seizure by HMAS Toowoomba since arriving in the Middle East over a month ago.

Commander Joint Task Force 633, Major General Susan Coyle said the seized drugs were concealed inside void spaces built into the dhow, and were subsequently destroyed at sea.

150 parcels of illicit drugs including hashish and heroin are made ready for destruction on the flight deck of HMAS Toowoomba after a successful boarding as part of Operation Manitou on the 19th March 2020. (Royal Australian Navy)

The seizure took place on 19 March 2020 in support of the Combined Maritime Forces, a 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.

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