UK’s frigate scores heaviest drugs bust in a decade
Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose (F236) has seized more than 6 tons of illicit narcotics from a fishing vessel while conducting patrols in international waters in the Gulf of Oman.
As disclosed, the ship was operating as part of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, one of three task forces under Combined Maritime Forces, a 34-nation partnership headquartered in Bahrain with US Naval Forces Central Command and US 5th Fleet. CTF 150 conducts regional patrols to locate and disrupt unlawful maritime activity.
The seizure consisted of 6,566 kilograms of hashish, with an estimated US street value of $9 million. The narcotics were confiscated and loaded aboard HMS Montrose for analysis and destruction, the officials noted.
It’s the third strike of the year in the Gulf of Oman for the Bahrain-based warship – and the ninth it has scored since beginning its extended Middle East mission three years ago, depriving traffickers of an estimated £95 million ($124 million) in total.
“I’m really proud of the team; we conducted this boarding efficiently using the experience we’ve gained over the past three months,” said Lieutenant Joe Martin RM, the Royal Marines boarding officer.
While the commandos and sailors conducted their thorough search of the suspect vessel, the ship’s Wildcat helicopter provided support and protection throughout.
Commodore Adrian Fryer, the senior Royal Navy officer in the Gulf region, said the success underscored the importance of the frigate’s long-term presence in the region.
“Actions like this deprive criminal and terrorist organisations of the funds they need to function and has a positive impact both here in the Middle East region and in the parts of the world, including the UK, that these narcotics would have been eventually sold.”
HMS Montrose – the 5th of the frigate fleet – has a highly sensitive suite of radars which allows the ship to track aircraft and missiles up to 120 miles, and a missile system with a 20+ mile range. It is equipped with sonar to detect submarines and a helicopter armed with torpedoes.