May 1, 2021 – The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) ship HMCS Calgary has made the largest ever heroin bust in Combined Maritime Forces history, operating under the command of the Canadian-led Combined Task Force (CTF) 150.
The record-setting haul of 2,835 lbs (1,286 kg) of heroin on 23 April was achieved seven years to the day since HMAS Darwin interdicted 2,275 lbs (1,032kg) of the drug in 2014. In addition to their record-breaking success, Calgary struck again less than 24 hours later with a second interdiction capturing 794 lbs (360 kg) of methamphetamine.
“I’m speaking for everyone on HMCS Calgary when I say it’s a great feeling to have made two substantial busts so early into our operation,” said the Commanding Officer of Calgary, Commander Mark O’Donohue. “A lot of work and coordination at both the ship level, and throughout Combined Task Force-150, and the CMF coalition goes into our work. It’s fantastic to see that pay off and to know we are contributing to the interruption of a revenue stream that is being used to fund terrorism.”
Whilst operating off the coast of Oman, the RCN frigate intercepted two vessels suspected of smuggling. The ship’s boarding team conducted subsequent searches, uncovering the high value contraband with a combined total worth of over $23.22 million, making a salient impact to drug trafficking, often used to finance terrorism in the region. These interdictions come less than ten days after Calgary began operations in the region, increasing the total number of successful counter-narcotics operations under CTF-150 to 14 since the RCN took command of the task force on 27 January.
Calgary arrived in the CMF area of operations as a part of Canada’s Operation ARTEMIS on 15 April. ARTEMIS is the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) mission to help stop terrorism and make Middle Eastern waters more secure. In 2021, CAF contributions to Operation ARTEMIS include commanding and operating CTF-150, naval support from HMCS Calgary and a Royal Canadian Air Force patrol aircraft.
“An excellent job by our Canadian partners, conducting these successful interdictions in such rapid succession. As a multinational organization, our agility is such that we are able to maintain a constant watch on illicit actors, using ships from many different navies,” said Deputy Commander of CMF, Commodore Ed Ahlgren of the Royal Navy.
“I could not be more pleased with HMCS Calgary’s recent success at sea. Through diligent preparation and focused pre-deployment training the Calgary team arrived in theater in a position to immediately contribute to Maritime Security in a meaningful way,” said Commander of CTF-150, Commodore Daniel Charlebois of the Royal Canadian Navy. “Less than ten days after arriving in the CTF-150 area of operations, they have already made 2 substantial seizures of illicit narcotics, disrupting the illegal flow of drugs destined for our communities, and whose proceeds finance criminal and terrorist organizations and their activities.”