The Royal Navy has helped to seize £105m of hashish after searching for two days in the Indian Ocean.
The pilots flew over hundreds of miles of ocean before their hunt for the suspicious boat ended.
The helicopter crew then guided an Australian frigate, HMAS Warramunga, to the vessel.
On boarding, the ship’s team discovered more than 3½ tonnes of illegal narcotics hidden aboard.
This is the Aussies’ second drugs haul in a week.
The Navy launched Sea King helicopters to begin the search on New Year’s Day.
The Sea Kings are fitted with specialist radar meaning they are able to track incoming aircraft as well as any movements on the ground or on the surface of the ocean.
There was a massive effort from all parties involved from both Fort Rosalie and, ultimately, Warramunga.
Although the New Year’s Day searches were unsuccessful, the next day saw the discovery of the boat carrying the illegal narcotics.
The Sea Kings were able to monitor the vessel using their powerful radar, until the Australians were able to close in under cover of darkness, catching the trafficker off-guard.
Sea King detachment commander Lieutenant Commander Dan Breward said of the drugs bust:
“There was a massive effort from all parties involved from both Fort Rosalie and, ultimately, Warramunga.
“As long as drugs and weapons continue to be trafficked to aid terrorism, we will be here with the coalition members to stop them; we have a track record that we aim to build upon.”
Commander Dugald Clelland, Warramunga’s Commanding Officer added:
“The Royal Navy helicopter was able to guide us to the suspect vessel that Warramunga’s boarding party searched at night, in difficult conditions.
“The boarding party did a first-rate job and was able to locate and seize more than three and a half tonnes of illegal narcotics.”
Both ships and the helicopters are working for Combined Task Force 150, an Australian-led international force of warships which patrols 2½ million square miles of Indian Ocean on the lookout for illegal activity.
Task group commander Commodore Mal Wise, based in Bahrain, said the help of the Sea Kings and Fort Rosalie was “essential to locating the suspect vessel”.
He continued: “This highlights the excellent teamwork from nations contributing to our operations in the Middle East, and has a significant impact on the flow of illegal narcotics that fund terrorist networks.”