Three Royal New Zealand Navy sailors have received medals for their roles in intercepting pirates and seizing drugs in operations off the coast of Somalia, Tanzania and in the Indian Ocean.
Leading Hydrographic Survey Technician Samuel Martin, and Able Seaman Combat Specialists Samantha Carter and Leevi Eaton have been deployed for the last seven months on Australian ship HMAS Melbourne, the RNZN said.
Over the past two weeks they were part of a team involved in intercepts, searches and the seizure operations on several vessels resulting in the interception of 543kg of heroin and 1951kgs of hashish off the coast of Tanzania and Oman.
In October last year, they were also involved in the interception and transportation of nine suspected pirates off the Somali Coast, the navy said.
Australian Navy Leading Seaman Liam Sweeten said the New Zealanders followed the plan and executed it well.
"We initially embarked the suspected pirates to HMAS Melbourne and later transferred them back to the Somali Coast,'' he said
Able Seaman Combat Specialist Carter said the experience was one she would not forget in a hurry.
"The best part was being involved in an operation that's actually happening, not just something we hear about or something we train for, but something happening real time,'' she said.
Carter and Eaton received operational medals, while Martin was also the recipient of the CJTF633 Bronze Commendation for exceptional performance.