Matelots and their Royal Marines oppos bagged more than one tonne of hash when they thwarted some smugglers on the notorious ‘Hashish High-way’ earlier on this week.
During the operation, the crew onboard the Royal Navy’s Type 23 Frigate, HMS Montrose, collected several bales of hash from the warm waters in the Gulf of Oman.
After boarding the vessel that had thrown the bales into the sea, the Royal Marines Commando’s then found a secret cache hidden aboard the dhow during a two-day interdiction operation.
The haul is said to have a street value of around £6m.
This is the second time in three weeks that the Royal Navy has seized huge loads of narcotics.
The Type 45 Destroyer, HMS Defender, also seized 2.5 tonnes of hash in the same operational area.
The latest capture by HMS Montrose and her ships company is the second such successful operation after she intercepted a cargo of Class-A-drugs in October, said to be worth around £1m.
Armed Forces Minister, James Heappey, said:
“This seizure is another impressive demonstration of the Royal Navy’s vital work around the world.
“Our servicemen and women, once again, have proved that their skill and professionalism can disrupt major criminal organisations and continue to keep our citizens safe.”
This week’s success began when the frigate’s Wildcat helicopter came across a dhow moving through waters known to be used by traffickers.
As the sun rose on the Arabian Sea, the frigate and her team of Commandos were ready to pounce on the vessel.
Lieutenant Commander Charli Martin, the ships Weapon Engineering Officer, said:
“Several packages could be seen floating in the water near the dhow.
“The packages were recovered and determined to be hashish.
“Royal Marine Commandos then boarded the dhow, securing it for search by a Royal Navy boarding team.”
Commander Charles Collins, Montrose’s Commanding Officer, said:
“I am very proud of the crew of HMS Montrose — last week we were 800 miles away providing maritime security for merchant shipping in the Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, and this week disrupting the flow of illegal narcotics through the seizure of Hashish worth around £6 million on the UK market.”
“It was a proper team effort and just shows how HMS Montrose is like a Swiss Army knife of capability, able to react at a moment’s notice to anything we are tasked to do.”
HMS Montrose, which is based long-term in Bahrain as part of the Royal Navy’s Forward Presence vision to deploy warships around the globe for several years at a time, is currently working for an Australian-led international task group, focused on maritime security operations in Middle Eastern waters.
Commodore Ray Leggatt RAN, Commander of Combined Task Force 150, said:
“Fantastic work by the crew of HMS Montrose in tracking this smuggler, stopping them from ditching their cargo, and keeping these drugs from reaching their destination.
“With the support of ships like Montrose, the task force continues to apply pressure and disrupt the operations of terrorist and criminal organisations in the region that seek to use the maritime domain for their illegitimate trade.”
Image credit: Ministry of Defence / Royal Navy