Royal Navy records heaviest drug haul in a decade

Royal Navy sailors have captured £6.5m worth of drugs after stopping a vessel in the Gulf of Oman.

HMS Montrose raided a suspect dhow, resulting in Montrose’s sailors and Royal Marines bagging six and a half tonnes of hashish (also known as cannabis resin), the heaviest haul of drugs seized by allied warships in the Middle East in a decade.

This the third drugs bust this year from the Bahrain-based warship. Overall, HMS Montrose has deprived traffickers of an estimated £95m since starting her Middle East mission three years ago.

While the commandos and sailors conducted their search of the suspect vessel, the ship’s Wildcat helicopter provided support and protection throughout.

The hashish was tallied and tested aboard HMS Montrose where the crew estimated a UK wholesale value of £6.5 million, before the drugs were destroyed.

“Once again, HMS Montrose and her ship’s company have proven their capability in the battle against illegal and illicit activity in the region,” says commanding officer Commander Claire Thompson.

“Six and a half tonnes tonnes is a great achievement and these results only happen because of the collective effort and skill of the incredibly professional, highly-trained and dedicated people that the Royal Navy employs and that I have the privilege to command.”

Montrose‘s Sea Boat returns with the hash haul

“I’m really proud of the team; we conducted this boarding efficiently using the experience we’ve gained over the past three months,” says Lieutenant Joe Martin RM, the Royal Marines boarding officer. “We learn each time we board a vessel, never resting on our laurels and continually honing our edge.”

The commander of HMS Montrose’s parent task group, CTF 150, Commodore Vaqar Muhammad of the Pakistani Navy, adds: “This seizure of such a huge quantity of narcotics in a single boarding is highly commendable. HMS Montrose has always been geared up and proactive in interdicting illegal activities in the CTF-150 Area of Operation, conducting three boarding operations on three consecutive days to finally get this success.”

The crew of HMS Montrose with the seized hashish

Commodore Adrian Fryer, the senior Royal Navy officer in the Gulf region, says: “It is extremely rewarding to see the hard work of our sailors pay off with such a large scale seizure and I know they will be as proud of their work as I am of them.

“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.”

All images courtesy of MoD/Crown copyright/PA.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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