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NZ Navy leadership ends Arabian Gulf mission with $15M drug bust

For Royal New Zealand Navy’s Captain Brendon Clark, the seizure of more than one tonne of drugs from a vessel in the Gulf of Oman was a fitting end to his time in Command of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF150).

25 January, 2022

CTF150 is part of a 34 nation coalition responsible for conducting maritime security operations outside the Arabian Gulf to ensure that legitimate shipping can occur freely. Its mission is to disrupt illicit activity such as the movement of people, weapons and narcotics. 

“The interception and seizure last week by Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose included 663kg of heroin, 87kg of methamphetamine and 291kg of hashish, with a regional wholesale value of $US9.85 million ($NZ14.7m). It was analysed and destroyed, denying funding for terrorist and criminal organisations” said Captain Clark, Commander of CTF150.

“Street value varies around the world; but from a New Zealand perspective, this shipment was worth $NZ685.9m, showing the profit margins that can be made by those groups involved in supply.”

“Disrupting this supply of narcotics is one of the key outcomes of the mission.”

HMS Montrose crew with drugs seized at the end of the Royal New Zealand Navy’s stint leading the Combined Task Force 150 in the Indian Ocean

Over the six-month RNZN Command of CTF150, 14 suspect vessels were identified and intercepted with a total New Zealand street value of $NZ3.05 billion of drugs seized and destroyed.   

“In regional wholesale value dollar terms, this is the second most successful command in the 20-year history of the Combined Maritime Forces.  

“The results are testament to the professionalism and hard work of the personnel, ships and aircraft operating under the command of the New Zealand led multi-national staff,” Captain Clark said.

“I am extremely proud of the part we played and what we have achieved during our time in command.”

New Zealand took over command of CTF 150 from the Royal Canadian Navy in July 2021 and has now handed over responsibility to the Pakistan Navy.