Royal Navy ship seizes more than a tonne of illegal drugs worth £8m in the Gulf in second bust in a few days

MORE than £8m worth of drugs have been siezed by the Royal Navy in the Gulf of Oman.

More than one tonne of illegal narcotics was captured by HMS Montrose – just days after another multi-million pound haul.

In a nine-hour operation the ship’s boarding team of sailors and Royal Marines of 42 commando recovered 150 kilogrammes of heroin, 250 kilogrammes of methamphetamine and 665 kilogrammes of hashish – depriving criminal and terrorist networks of vital funding.

The boarding teams approached the suspect vessel on two of Montrose’s Pacific 24 boats, before seizing the dhow and conducting a search, with the frigate’s Wildcat helicopter monitoring events from above.

What: Transferring seized drugs back to MTRO in Seaboat Why: Ready for cataloguing and destruction Where: Gulf of Oman When: 24 January 2022 Photographer: CPO AWW Jones-Price

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The illicit substances were seized and brought back to HMS Montrose for analysis and destruction.

Commanding Officer Claire Thompson said: ‘I am yet again incredibly proud of the hard work and dedication my crew continue to put into conducting these operations.

‘Another large seizure of illegal drugs, demonstrates our commitment to stopping the smuggling of narcotics, and having been joined by the National Crime Agency for the period, really demonstrates a collegiate approach to an international problem.’

The suspect as seen from HMPS Montrose's helicopter. Picture: Royal Navy

It’s estimated the wholesale value of the drugs totalled more than £8m – bringing the total of illegal narcotics seized by the ship in nearly three years in the region to £88m, captured in eight busts.

HMS Montrose has been deployed to the Gulf region for more than 1,000 days. Operating out of Bahrain, she supports maritime security operations and multi-national task forces in the Middle East, and protecting the interests of the United Kingdom and its allies. She is currently Devonport-based but will soon call Portsmouth her home port.

As with her earlier success, Montrose was assigned to the international Combined Task Force 150, dedicated to counter-terrorism duties.

Who: (L-R) SLt Carter, LH Aston, Lt Graham, CPO Warren, Lt Cdr Wheldon, WO1 Ronaldson, CPO Jacobs, PO (P) Hunn What: Seized drugs being mustered and catalogued Why: To record types and weights of each drug Where: Gulf of Oman When: 24 January 2022 Photographer: CPO AWW Jones-Price

Its Pakistani Navy commander, Commodore Vaqar Muhammad, added: ‘This seizure is a manifestation of the resolve and commitment of surface and air assets supporting CTF 150 to suppress and deter illicit activities at sea.

‘Once again, the professionalism and dedication of HMS Montrose is commendable. CTF 150 continues to maintain a robust presence to support freedom of navigation to seafarers.’

In the previous bust on January 15 Montrose seized 663kg of heroin, 87kg of methamphetamine and 291kg of hashish and marijuana.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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