While deployed to the Middle East Region for Operation MANITOU, HMAS Ballarat has conducted a boarding of a vessel (dhow) in international waters in the Arabian Sea. During the boarding, illicit cargo was discovered and seized which included nearly half a million rounds of small arms ammunition, and 697 bags of chemical fertiliser.
The fertiliser has possible dual use for the manufacture of improvised explosives.
This seizure is of significant concern to maritime security, in particular the illicit proliferation of ammunition and chemicals which could be used to produce explosives.
HMAS Ballarat has safely disposed of the seized items and has resumed routine tasking. HMAS Ballarat has conducted 38 boardings since deploying to the Middle East on Operation MANITOU in November 2018.
During this time the crew of HMAS Ballarat has stopped illegal narcotics in excess of AUD $1 billion from funding terrorism and other illegal activity.
This is the second deployment to the Middle East for HMAS Ballarat and the 67th rotation of a Royal Australian Navy vessel in the region since 1990.
Operation MANITOU is the name for the Australian Government’s contribution to support international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East Region.
Australian Department of Defence
June 28, 2019
Contributing to stable, rules-based global security is one of Australia’s national objectives. Since 1990, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has conducted maritime security operations in the Middle East Region, which remains strategically important to Australia’s economic and trade interests.
Operation MANITOU is the current name for the Australian Government’s contribution to support international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East Region (MER). An enhanced security environment ensures Australia’s safe and open access to the region while fostering trade and commerce.
Operation MANITOU is under command of Joint Task Force 633 (JTF633), which is the Australian National HQ in the Middle East Region. The Royal Australian Navy routinely sends a Major Fleet Unit (MFU) to the MER for assignment to Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).
Combined Maritime Forces is composed of thirty two nations and has three principle task forces:
Combined Task Force 150, which conducts counter-terrorism and maritime security operations;
Combined Task Force 151, which conducts counter piracy operations;
Combined Task Force 152, which conducts Arabian Gulf maritime security operations.
The Australian Defence Organisation also provides a small staff that is permanently embedded within the Combined Maritime Forces Headquarters. This team, which presently comprises eight Royal Australian Navy personnel and one DSTG scientist, also undertakes the role of the Maritime Operations Support Group.
The Royal Australian Navy also provides an International Liaison Officer for the UK Maritime Trade Operations Office.
Anzac class frigate HMAS Ballarat departed Australia in October 2018 for a nine month deployment to Operation Manitou. This is the 67th rotation of a Royal Australian Navy warship to the MER since 1990. She follows the successful deployment of HMAS Warramunga, which returned to her home port of Fleet Base East, Sydney in July, 2018.