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NZ and Australian Sailors Work Together in Middle East Drug Busts

RNZN Leading Seamanship Combat Specialist Jack Walters, LT Sophie Going and Leading Seamanship Combat Specialist Jordan McHugh prepare for another day at sea aboard HMAS Melbourne in the Arabian Sea.
RNZN Leading Seamanship Combat Specialist Jack Walters, LT Sophie Going and Leading Seamanship Combat Specialist Jordan McHugh prepare for another day at sea aboard HMAS Melbourne in the Arabian Sea.
Photo courtesy of the Australian Defence Force

6 November 2015

The three New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel serving on the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) frigate HMAS Melbourne, deployed on an anti-narcotics mission in the Middle East, are still feeling welcome, despite the All Blacks defeating the Wallabies in the Rugby World Cup final.

Three Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) personnel are aboard the ship, which is patrolling the Middle East region as part of Operation Manitou, the Australian contribution to the multi-national Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf. 

Sub-Lieutenant (SLT) Sophie Going, along with Leading Seamanship Combat Specialists (LSCS) Jack Walters and Jordan McHugh, are contributing to the ship’s work in intercepting narcotics used to help fund international terrorism.

SBLT Going said it was exciting to be a part of Operation Manitou and have the opportunity to be on an RAN warship. “It’s also nice to have some other Kiwis on board to help soften the blow for the Aussies at the end of the World Cup,” she said.

“The mission we are conducting on Melbourne is extremely important because we are helping to stop the trafficking of illegal drugs. The first boardings and searches of suspected vessels were a highlight and it’s exciting to be doing what we have trained to do.”

On Melbourne’s first patrol of 2015, the crew intercepted, boarded and searched a fishing dhow suspected of illegal activity in the Arabian Sea on 1 October.

During the search 427kgs of heroin were seized and brought on board for identification and disposal. The value of the drugs was close to $NZ135 million.

LSCS Walters and LSCS McHugh’s main role is to drive the sea boats used by the boarding parties. Their qualifications are equivalent to RAN boatswains, so they are happy to jump in and help.

LSCS Walters said he was excited to work with his counterparts aboard HMAS Melbourne.

“It’s very special because this is 2015 and the Anzac centenary. The spirit of 100 years of Australian and New Zealand forces working together is still going strong.” he said.

This is LSCS Walters’ first operational tour in the Middle East since joining the RNZN in 2008 straight out of high school.

“I am proud of the work we are doing stopping the funds for terrorism, and I have met some great people on Melbourne, who will be mates for life. The Aussies are top blokes and the way they have treated the New Zealanders on board is a true testament to Australian hospitality,” he said.

LSCS McHugh is a former civilian diving instructor with a love of the sea who has found the RNZN to be a natural fit for his desire for a career on the water. He began his busy naval career in 2006 on the survey ship HMNZS Resolution. He also worked on patrol boats before transferring to HMNZS Otago for fisheries patrols on two deployments to Antarctica.

He said it was a fantastic experience to be deployed to the Arabian Gulf on Melbourne. “The operation has been varied, which keeps sea life interesting and the crew is great,” he said.

“Operation Manitou has given us an opportunity to contribute to preventing the trafficking of drugs which provide funds for terrorists.”

Melbourne is on her eighth deployment to the Middle East region and is the 61st rotation of a RAN vessel in the region since the first Gulf War in 1991.

ENDS
For more information please contact Defence Public Affairs on 021 487 980


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