Royal Navy warship HMS Montrose seizes £3m of narcotics from Gulf drug cartels

DRUG cartels in the Gulf have been dealt a crushing blow after a Royal Navy boarding team seized £3m worth of narcotics during a bust at sea.

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 12:36 pm

HMS Montrose carried out the raid in the Gulf in her third drugs bust in little over a month.

The frigate pounced on a suspect dhow, recovering almost three tonnes of hash and heroin in a 10-hour operation.

It comes on the back of two seizures in as many days in the same waters in mid-February when various illegal narcotics worth £11m were confiscated.

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HMS Montrose's crew stand next to the £3m haul of seized drugs. Photo: Royal Navy

The third haul occurred after the Bahrain-based warship completed a major training workout off Oman – and on the final day in charge of the ship for the ship’s captain Commander Ollie Hucker after two years at the helm.

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‘Through their efforts and ability, once again, Montrose has made an impact on ensuring that these drugs do not reach their end source,’ said the 39-year-old formerly of Southsea.

‘Be it my first day or my last day, these results only happen because of the collective effort and skill of the incredibly professional, highly trained and dedicated people that the Royal Navy employ, and that I have the privilege to command.’

HMS Montrose's RM boarding teams approach a suspicious dhow while operating as part of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) counter-narcotics operations in the Gulf. Photo: Royal Navy

Montrose’s latest success began thanks to the sharp-eyed crew of the frigate’s Wildcat helicopter who spotted the suspect vessel during a routine dawn patrol.

‘When we radioed in what we’d found, the ship turned to steam towards us, and the chain had started, ultimately leading to this success,’ said Lieutenant Max Cosby, the Wildcat’s commander.

Once within close range, Montrose launched her commando boarding team in fast boats. The combined display of force – with the helicopter overhead providing cover – brought the drug runners to a halt.

HMS Montrose's Royal Marines boarding team approach a suspicious dhow while operating as part of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) counter-narcotics operations in the Gulf. Photo: Royal Navy

The search of the dhow by sailors and marines resulted in 50kg hashish and 2,800kg heroin – with a wholesale value of £1m and £2.24m respectively.

‘This was about seizing the moment and taking the opportunity,’ said Lieutenant Sam Gorton, the Royal Marine in charge of seizing the dhow.

‘My boarding team were slick, proficient and for their efforts they successfully stopped the vessel, safely embarked and discovered the drugs. It has been a good deployment and I am hugely proud of my team for their achievements.’

Montrose was attached to a Canadian-led task group at the time of her success, Combined Task Force 150 which is committed to disrupting criminal and terrorist activity and the and illegal trade of drugs and weapons in the Indian Ocean.

The ship is currently part of the Devonport fleet in Plymouth. However, she is earmarked to join Portsmouth’s flotilla as part of a previously-announced shake-up of the Royal Navy.

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