HMS Montrose has partnered with a French Navy frigate to make a major drugs bust in the Arabian Sea
The Angus-affiliated Type 23 warship – currently on a three-year deployment in the Middle East – was involved in the interception of a dhow packed with illegal drugs which enforcement officers fear could have been bound for the UK.
It is the latest swoop in a successful maritime counter narcotics initiative which has already netted more than £36 million worth of heroin, hashish and crystal meth this year.
The suspicious dhow was initially located by the French Navy frigate FS Jean Bart’s helicopter and boarded by a team who secured the vessel and conducted an investigation.
Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel from HMS Montrose then took over the search of the vessel and the team located and seized a large number of packages containing the drugs.
HMS Montrose commanding officer, Commander Ollie Hucker said it was the type of mission he and his crew had trained hard for.
“I am immensely proud of my ship’s company who have all played their part in tackling the international drugs trade from the sea and have prevented the landing of these drugs in other countries, perhaps even the streets of the UK,” he said.
“Seizures like these put a dent in the funding of wider illicit and illegal activity.”
The two warships were operating as part of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, a 33 nation coalition with responsibility for counter terrorism and counter narcotics across a large area of the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.
The bust brings the total of drugs seized by CMF warships in 2019 to over 2,000kg of heroin, just over 130kg of crystal methamphetamine and nearly 50,000kg of hashish.
Last year CMF warships seized narcotics worth around £60 million.
HMS Montrose – honoured with the Freedom of Angus in 2002 – is the first Royal Naval ship to be forward deployed to the Middle East and is supported by personnel from the Royal Navy and other services working as part of United Kingdom Maritime Component Command (UKMCC) and CMF.
Since arriving in April 2019, she has undertaken a wide range of duties, such as ensuring freedom of navigation in the region and protection of merchant shipping.