The crew of HMAS Melbourne have completed a fifth successful drug seizure for Operation MANITOU after seizing about 65 kg of heroin from a dhow in the Indian Ocean.

The hidden drugs were discovered when Melbourne’s boarding party searched a suspect vessel during Melbourne’s last maritime security patrol with the multinational Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) before handing over to HMAS Darwin and returning to Australia.

The heroin was seized and transported onboard HMAS Melbourne for further analysis before it was disposed at sea.

HMAS Melbourne makes fifth drug seizure before returning home

HMAS Melbourne personnel dispose of 65kg of illegal narcotics seized from a dhow in the northern Indian Ocean. Image: Australian Navy

Specialised equipment onboard the Australian Guided Missile Frigate identified the drugs as mid-grade heroin valued at approximately $50M AUD (based on Australian Crime Commission figures and revised for purity).

The latest seizure brings Melbourne’s total haul of heroin intercepted for this deployment to just under a tonne (977 kg).

Commander Bill Waters, Commanding Officer – HMAS Melbourne, said the latest intercept was a credit to the ongoing dedication of the crew.

“We approached this boarding like we did for our first boarding of the deployment,” Commander Waters said.

“The entire ship remained focussed and our results bear witness to their abilities.

“I am very pleased with the achievements of the Ship’s Company over the entire deployment and thankful to all at CMF for placing us in the right place at the right time to undertake this boarding.”

HMAS Melbourne's boarding conduct initial discussion with a crew member of a dhow in the northern Indian Ocean.

Image: Australian Navy

Melbourne is conducting maritime security operations with the CMF as part of the Australian-led Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150), one of several Task Forces assigned to CMF. Melbourne’s operations encompass the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf during her deployment in the Middle East Region.

CTF 150 undertakes maritime security patrols in the region to counter maritime related terrorism and to intercept the trafficking of drugs and illicit cargoes that help fund international terrorist activities.

This is Melbourne’s eighth deployment to the Middle East Region and the 61st for the Royal Australian Navy since the Gulf War in 1991.