HMS Northumberland Intercepts High Speed Drug Smuggling Skiffs in Gulf of Oman

HMS Northumberland Intercepts High Speed Drug Smuggling Skiffs in Gulf of Oman

Royal Navy frigate HMS Northumberland has intercepted two high speed drug smuggling skiffs in the Gulf of Oman, carrying an estimated £5.4m of cannabis resin.

Having identified two suspicious high speed skiffs during a routine patrol, the Plymouth-based frigate embarked on a 30 mile pursuit and intercepted the skiffs with her Merlin helicopter and combined Royal Navy and Marine boarding teams.

Whilst in pursuit of the smugglers the pursuing teams witnessed approximately 60 bales being thrown overboard.

Seven of the bales were subsequently recovered by HMS Northumberland’s sea boat and Merlin helicopter and found to contain pure cannabis resin.

Almost 1,500kg was thrown overboard; it’s estimated the drugs have an overall street value of approximately £5.4m.

Commander Johnny Ley, Staff Operations Officer on the UK Maritime Component Command said:

“The air in the operations room here as we followed Northumberland’s pursuit in real time was electric.

“When the skiffs were intercepted there was a buzz and a real sense of a job well done.”

HMS Northumberland will continue to conduct Counter Piracy and Counter Narcotic operations in the Indian Ocean.

She is due to return to the UK, after almost 8 months away, in May.

HMS Northumberland is operating under the banner of Combined Task Force 150, one of three task forces coordinated by the international Combined Maritime Forces, with the aim of defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, stopping the illegal trafficking of people and drugs, and promoting the maritime environment as a safe place for mariners with legitimate business.

Commodore Simon Ancona RN, Commander, UK Maritime Component Command said:

“The Royal Navy are out in the middle East, on patrol, looking for pirates, drug runners and terrorists 24/7 365 days a year.

“This success underlines the enduring UK focus on stability and security in this vital region and it’s what the Royal Navy does when it’s on the beat.”

Naval Today Staff, March 20, 2013; Image: Royal Navy