Police have seized 186kg of cocaine worth $60 million from a ship off the coast of Tasmania

Australian Federal Police with a separate drug bust in 2012. Photo: Torsten Blackwood/ AFP/ Getty Images.

Authorities have seized 186kg of cocaine, worth $60 million, from a former Japanese whaling ship off the coast of Tasmania.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, authorities found the drugs after boarding the vessel on December 12.

The 10 men on board — nine Chinese and a Singaporean — were charged with attempting to import a commercial quantity of drugs.

Another 12 men, suspected of being part of a organised crime syndicate, were monitored for five weeks following the bust and were arrested on Wednesday.

They included six men in Victoria, another four in Melbourne and two in Queensland. They are expected to be charged with the same offence.

The importation method, known as the “mothership” — whereby a large vessel sits outside Australian waters and waits for a smaller boat to collect the drugs — has been detected elsewhere off the Australian coast, but it is the first time that it has been detected off the coast of Tasmania.

Because the boat wasn’t in Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone authorities had to wait for approval for the operation to be carried out.

The Australian Federal Police, Victoria Police’s joint organised crime task force, Australian Border Force, Australian Defence Force, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and Tasmania Police were all part of the operation.

More details to come.

The SMH has more.

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