Suspicions were raised about a yacht carrying hundreds of kilos of cocaine after it failed to arrive in New Caledonia.
More details have been released about the yacht and its US$450 million drug cargo which the French navy seized last week.
A naval commander Jean-Louis Fournier said the Amira Najia reported an engine problem to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, saying it was bound for Noumea.
The crew then said it was bound for Bourail, but the vessel failed to arrive.
The yacht was discovered heading towards Australia, raising suspicions and the French navy intercepted it 18 hours later.
It was taken to Noumea where 578 kilogrammes of cocaine was found.
The three crew members, whose identities have not been disclosed, have been detained for questioning.
The drugs have been destroyed in the furnace of the SLN nickel smelter.