HMS Montrose Makes Royal Navy's Heaviest Drug Bust in a Decade

Image courtesy Royal Navy

Published Mar 8, 2022 6:36 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Royal Navy has made its heaviest drug bust in 10 years with the seizure of 6,500 kilos of hashish in the Gulf of Oman. 

In a dawn raid, the crew of HMS Montrose captured 6.5 tonnes of hashish, the heaviest haul of drugs (if not the most valuable) seized by allied warships in the Middle East in a decade. The value of the seizure is estimated at about $8.5 million. 

While the commandos and sailors conducted a five-hour search of the suspect vessel, the ship’s Wildcat helicopter provided support and overwatch. 

“I’m really proud of the team; we conducted this boarding efficiently using the experience we’ve gained over the past three months,” said 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.”

It’s the third strike of the year in the Gulf of Oman for HMS Montrose, and the ninth she has made since her Middle East deployment began three years ago. To date, she has captured more than $100 million worth of narcotics. 

“Once again, HMS Montrose and her ship’s company have proven their capability in the battle against illegal and illicit activity in the region,” said the frigate’s delighted Commanding Officer Commander Claire Thompson. "Six and a half tonnes tonnes is a great achievement."

Commodore Adrian Fryer, the senior Royal Navy officer in the Gulf region, said the success underscored the importance of the frigate’s long-term presence in the region. “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," Fryer said. 

HMS Montrose is a Duke-class frigate launched in 1992. In 2021, the UK Ministry of Defence announced that she would be retired from service early upon her return from the Persian Gulf, with an expected retirement date at some point next year. She had originally been expected to remain in service through the mid-2020s.