HMAS Melbourne (FFG 05) is an Adelaide-class frigate commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy in 1992. She is currently deployed to the Middle East Area of Operations as part of Operation Slipper, Australia’s contribution to maritime security operations in the region.
HMAS Melbourne apprehends alleged pirates
Royal Australian Navy ship, HMAS Melbourne, has intercepted suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia as part of maritime security patrols in Middle Eastern waters for Operation SLIPPER.
The suspected pirates were intercepted on 15 October 2013 after the Combined Maritime Forces received two reports of attempted acts of piracy against two separate merchant vessels during the previous four days.
Under the direction of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF151), HMAS Melbourne was appointed as on-scene commander for a multi-national search operation, involving ships and aircraft from the Combined Maritime Forces and European Union Naval Forces to locate and intercept the suspected pirates.
With the assistance of other CTF 151 assets, HMAS Melbourne successfully located the suspected pirate vessels.
HMAS Melbourne‘s highly trained boarding team made the final approach to board and search the skiffs successfully apprehending the nine pirates.
Commander Brian Schlegel, Commanding Officer HMAS Melbourne said that the Ship’s Company knew what to do and was well trained to ensure a positive outcome.
“Melbourne’s success in disrupting piracy activity in the region re-affirms the importance of Australia’s ongoing commitment to Combined Maritime Forces,” Commander Schlegel said.
“Melbourne’s Ship’s Company have worked tirelessly to contribute to a successful outcome for both Combined Maritime Forces and for the wider Maritime Community.”
HMAS Melbourne’s boarding party provided information about various items located onboard the two vessels that could be used in piracy attacks.
In accordance with the Combined Maritime Forces direction, the pirates were embarked in HMAS Melbourne and the skiffs and associated pirate equipment was destroyed.
HMAS Melbourne is currently returning the suspected pirates to Somalia.
The quick, co-ordinated and decisive response to threats in the maritime environment highlights the importance of the continued presence of multi-national forces in the Middle East region.
HMAS Melbourne is the 56th rotation to the Middle East Area of Operations since the 1991 Gulf War and the 32nd rotation since 2001.
She is employed by the Combined Maritime Forces under the Tactical Control of CTF151 who is responsible for counter piracy operations within the Middle East Area of Operations.
BZ! That’s 180kg of heroin that won’t be funding terrorist groups.
Canadian warship makes significant drug bust on the high seas
Canadian warship on patrol in the Arabian Sea made what the military is touting as an important drug seizure on Saturday.
HMCS Toronto intercepted and boarded a suspected smuggling vessel, seizing 154 bags of heroin weighing more than 180 kilograms, said a news release issued late Saturday.
The drugs were catalogued and then destroyed, the release said.
The seizure took place about 800 kilometres east of the Horn of Africa.
“I’m extremely proud of the work Toronto’s team, and all those on whom we rely for support, have done to achieve this success,” said Commander Matthew Bowen, Toronto’s skipper.
“A positive outcome like this, seizing and disposing of illegal narcotics whose sale would have funded extremist groups, is a big win for Canada’s counter-terrorism efforts.”
The frigate has made a number of drug seizures while on patrol in the past few months, including seizing 500 kilograms of heroin last March and about 5950 kilograms of hashish in another boarding incident in May.
The frigate is on patrol in the region as part of an international effort to curb terrorism and deter piracy on the high seas.
RFA Wave Knight is a Wave Knight-class fast fleet tanker of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. The vessels are crewed by 72 RFA personnel and there is also provision for 26 Royal Navy personnel for helicopter, weapons systems and counter-narcotics operations. RFA Wave Knight is currently assigned to the Royal Navy’s standing Caribbean deployment, Atlantic Patrol Task (North).
Wave Knight scores £9m drugs bust intercepting Caribbean smugglers
Sailors from tanker RFA Wave Knight stopped an estimated £9m of cannabis reaching the UK after intercepting a suspicious fishing vessel in the Caribbean.
The ship recovered more than £6m of cannabis bales from the ocean as the drug-runners ditched them overboard, with upwards of £3m worth of narcotics ending up on the seabed.
This is what £6.4m of cannabis looks like – and it will never reach dealers, let alone the streets of the UK after being snared by RFA Wave Knight in the Caribbean.
Upwards of £3m of the drug is thought to be resting on the seabed after the tanker gave chase to a suspicious fishing vessel, whose crew began tossing their cargo overboard.
The tanker was on patrol when she came across Miss Tiffany – and sent her sea boat off in pursuit, armed with a US Coast Guard boarding team.
When the boat reached the fishing vessel, the drug runners began ditching weighted bales of marijuana before their craft was boarded by the Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment.
Thanks to the efforts of the crew of Wave Knight’s second sea boat, some 55 of those bales were recovered and brought aboard the auxiliary.
In all a haul of some 1.2 tons (1276 Kg) with a street value of around £6.4m was recovered by Team Wave Knight with an estimated further 1,200lbs (540kg) of drugs sinking before the sailors could haul the bales out of the Caribbean.
Total disruption to the drug-runners: about £9m with seven crew of the Miss Tiffany arrested and their boat handed over to Jamaican authorities.
“The entire ships company – RFA civilians, US Law Enforcement Team and Royal Navy personnel alike – as well as HQ and prosecuting staff ashore – are delighted with the result,” said Capt Chris Clarke RFA, Wave Knight’s Commanding Officer.
“Once again the joint approach to counter narcotic operations has resulted in another successful take-down.”
It’s the fourth significant bust by British naval forces in the past couple of months.
Lancaster bagged £100m cocaine and £700,000 cannabis, while Wave Knight intercepted a drug-smuggling go-fast in a joint effort with the Dutch.
Those successes were underlined by defence secretary Philip Hammond. “The work of the Royal Navy across the globe and in particular in the Caribbean on counter-narcotics operations is vital to protecting us here at home,” he said.
“This drugs bust follows recent successful interdiction and deterrence operations by HMS Lancaster and HMS Argyll in the Caribbean which all contribute to ensuring illegal drugs do not reach our streets. I congratulate the ship’s company for their actions in this operation.”
Wave Knight’s bust came under the banner of Operation Martillo, an effort by 15 nations to stop the movement of drugs from the Central and South American region by sea or air.
HMAS Newcastle (FFG 06) is a Royal Australian Navy Adelaide-class frigate, laid down in 1989 and commissioned into the RAN in 1993. She will be replaced by one of the new Hobart-class destroyers (due to commission between 2016-19).
HMAS Newcastle completes counter-terrorism focused operation
In July, HMAS Newcastle completed an intensive counter-terrorism focused operation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden with the multi-national Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150).
During the focused operation, Newcastle executed 58 boarding actions, three replenishment activities with foreign ships and five deterrence transits of the (BAM).
The BAM, which translated from Arabic means the ‘Gate of Grief’, is a critical choke point that connects the Gulf of Aden to the Southern Red Sea, leading north to the Suez Canal. The narrow body of water is part of a global shipping network that connects the West and the East. It is frequently used by ships travelling from Europe to nations whose maritime boarders are on the Indian Ocean. CTF 150 estimates that between 55 and 65 merchant ships transit the BAM daily.
Principal Warfare Officer, Lieutenant Mike Forsythe described the BAM as a high risk area for terrorism related activities.
“It is high risk because of the width of the strait and the number of small boats that operate in it,” Lieutenant Forsythe said.
“The aims of the coalition and regional partners involved in the focused operation were to build a better understanding of the patterns of life in the area, to deter terrorist activities, and restrict the terrorist’s freedom of movement,” he said.
The boarding actions executed by Newcastle during the focused operation were Approach and Assist Visits (AAV), which are conducted regularly by coalition warships to build rapport with local mariners and seek information on what they may have seen in the area. The visits allow the coalition ships to collect intelligence on patterns of illegal activity.
Newcastle used her S-70-B2 Seahawk helicopter to survey the area of operations to gather intelligence on patterns of life and identify targets for her Boarding Party to visit.
During the focused operation, Newcastle also conducted three replenishment activities with coalition ships, from France and the United States, to take on fuel and stores ensuring that Newcastle could remain in the area and focused on her mission.
The Australian crew battled through 97 percent humidity for more than four hours to complete one of the Replenishment at Sea (RAS) evolutions with the United States Naval Service oiler USNS Patuxent, which included a Heavy Jackstay. Newcastle also conducted her first evening RAS with French Ship (FS) Somme, their third replenishment activity together since Newcastle arrived in the Middle East Area of Operation (MEAO).
The focused operation was a true multi-national affair with the Australian warship interacting with British, French, U.S. and Spanish units.
“The BAM is an important strategic strait to the international community. Without it, ships would have to transit all the way around Africa. We all have an interest in the security of this region,” Lieutenant Forsythe said.
On completion of the counter-terrorism focused operation, Newcastle was assigned to another CTF 150 operation – targeting the smuggling of weapons.
CTF 150 is one of three task forces operated by the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a 28-nation coalition based in Bahrain. The principle mission of CTF 150 is to deter, disrupt and defeat attempts by international terrorist organisations to use the maritime environment as a venue for attack or as a means to transport personnel, weapons and other materials.
Newcastle is in the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) assigned to Operation SLIPPER – the Australian Defence Force (ADF) contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, counter smuggling and counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and enhancing regional maritime security and engagement. Her deployment is the 55th rotation of an Australian warship to the MEAO since 1990.
Training begins on new pistols at Raleigh
The new pistol replaced the Browning as the pistol of choice in all three Services earlier this year.
During the first Glock course held at HMS Raleigh, a group of 17 sailors were taught how to safely fire and maintain the pistol over three days. The course culminated in a formal assessment to ensure that each sailor could use the weapon competently and accurately.
Royal Marine Colour Sergeant (CSgt) Kevin McBain, one of the instructors, said:
“The Glock 17 is a more modern combat weapon. It’s lighter than its predecessor and has a higher magazine capacity.
“It’s a very nice pistol and a very comfortable weapon to fire. The hand grip is good and there’s not too much recoil.
“With the students a lot of emphasis is placed on coaching and pistol marksmanship, so that they can gain confidence in their own abilities and produce the goods when required.”
While the Royal Marines typically use the pistol in close-quarters fighting, Royal Navy aircrew, divers and sailors involved in boarding operations carry the pistol.
All Royal Marines and Royal Navy personnel deployed to Afghanistan are pistol-qualified.
PO Alex Tilbury, who is currently serving onboard HMS Westminster, said:
“The course has been really good. It’s the first time I’ve fired a 9m pistol. The Glock seems to be relatively easy to use. The instructors were good too and helped us with every aspect of the course.”
The Glock 17 Gen 4 – to give the new pistol its full title- is part a wide range of weaponry available to front line troops. Pistols are vital in a close combat situation. CSgt McBain said:
“The pistol is a short-barrelled weapon, so it’s a complementary sidearm to the primary weapon system, which could possibly be the rifle. There is still a need for a very good Service pistol and that’s where the Glocks come in.
“The Browning has served us well throughout the years. It was first brought into service in 1967, but it’s now proving difficult to maintain so it’s time for a replacement.
“The Glock came out trumps on the trial, so that’s the pistol the Armed Forces have adopted. ”
The Glock carries 17 bullets compared with its predecessor’s 13.
It is the first new pistol to be introduced into the military for more than 40 years and has being supplied under a £9m deal with Viking Arms in Harrogate In total 25,000 Glock 17s have been ordered and troops deployed to Afghanistan were among the first to use the new weapon.
The contract with Viking also includes more than 25,000 holsters.
The Military Training Unit at HMS Raleigh provides cutting edge weapons training for Naval Service personnel at all levels, ensuring that they are fully prepared to protect themselves or their units on operations at sea and ashore.
The unit is currently training over 1,000 people a year to deploy in support of land operations, principally in Afghanistan. The MTU has the most up to date facilities available to the Royal Navy, including computer simulators, outside ranges and multimedia classroom.
The Adelaide-class is a modified version of the US Navy Oliver Hazard Perry-class in RAN service. Four ships were built in the US and two were built in Australian yards. The vessels are nearing the end of their operational life with two (Canberra and Adelaide) already decommissioned. They will be replaced by Hobart-class air defence destroyers from 2016 onward.
HMAS Newcastle participates in Counter Terrorism Operation
The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ship HMAS Newcastle is participating in a focused operation in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea as part of the international campaign against terrorism.
During the operation, Newcastle has conducted an Approach and Assist Visit (AAV) to a Yemeni flagged fishing vessel (dhow) in the Gulf of Aden.
Newcastle’s boarding party was invited to board the Yemeni flagged vessel by its crew, and donated a small quantity of sunglasses and sunscreen to the fishermen as a sign of good will.
AAVs are conducted regularly by coalition ships to foster good relationships with the local maritime community by approaching vessels and engaging in dialogue in the maritime environment. AAVs typically include confirmation of the welfare of the mariners, and seek information on what they may have seen in the area or any issues they may have.
Newcastle’s Boarding Officer, Lieutenant Alec Fieldsend said his boarding party was well received by the crew of the Yemeni fishing vessel.
“It’s all about building relationships with them and letting them know that we’re in the area to protect them and to keep the region secure,” LEUT Fieldsend said.
“For most of these fishermen, security in the maritime environment directly relates to their ability to make a living. So, most of them are very happy to see us out here conducting patrols,” he said.
CTF 150 is one of three task forces operated by Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a 28-nation coalition based in Bahrain.
CTF 150’s Area of Operation (AOO) spans over two million square miles, covering the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Gulf of Oman. The task force exists to create a lawful and stable maritime environment free from terrorism, smuggling and other illegal activities.
Newcastle’s participation in CTF 150 is part of her assignment to Operation SLIPPER – the Australian Defence Force (ADF) contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, counter smuggling and counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and enhancing regional maritime security and engagement.
Newcastle’s current deployment is the 55th rotation of an Australian warship to the MEAO since 1990. She is due to return to Australia in October, after handing over Operation SLIPPER duties to HMAS Melbourne.
Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20130678.
“The last charge of the Calcutta Light Horse…”