HMS Defender Seizes 2.5 Tonnes of Hashish in Indian Ocean

Image courtesy Royal Navy

Published Feb 4, 2020 2:05 PM by The Maritime Executive

Royal Navy destroyer HMS Defender has dealt another blow to the funding of terrorism after seizing 2.5 tonnes of hashish worth $1.3 million in the Indian Ocean. This is the warship’s second significant drugs bust in two months: she seized and destroyed a record haul of crystal meth in December.

The drugs bust unfolded after Defender launched her Wildcat helicopter to begin a search for possible illegitimate marine traffic in the Indian Ocean. Before long, a suspicious dhow was identified and HMS Defender sent a boarding team of Royal Marine Commandos, commanded by RM Lieutenant Ben Clink, to investigate.

Once the Royal Marines had secured the dhow, a Royal Navy team followed and searched the vessel for illicit cargo. The boarding party discovered 2.5 tonnes of hashish in 119 bags hidden throughout the dhow.

“Once again Defender has been able to seize a significant amount of narcotics, reinforcing the Royal Navy’s commitment to ensuring maritime security by disrupting the operations of drug smugglers and terrorists," said Commander Richard Hewitt, the CO of HMS Defender.

Portsmouth-based HMS Defender has been operating in support of Combined Task Force 150 – an international team keeping the seas of the Gulf secure. Defender’s haul of 130 kilos of crystal meth in December 2019 was the Combined Maritime Forces' largest ever. It took CMF’s total crystal meth seizures for 2019 to nearly 260 kilos, compared to only nine kilos the year before. 

CTF 150 is one of three task forces operating under CMF, a multinational naval partnership that protects 3.2 million square miles of international waters. The 33 nations that comprise CMF share intelligence, assets and capabilities.

The UK has a long-standing maritime security presence in the Gulf and Indian Ocean. Since 1980, ships of both the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary have maintained a presence there 365 days a year.