Royal Navy Busts Heroin Smugglers in Arabian Sea

Image courtesy Royal Navy

Published Mar 22, 2021 2:23 PM by The Maritime Executive

Drugs worth more than $4 million to terrorists have been seized by Royal Navy warship HMS Montrose – her third bust in just over a month. The frigate intercepted a suspect dhow in the northern Arabian Sea, recovering nearly three tonnes of hash and heroin in a ten-hour operation.

The bust comes just after two back to back seizures in mid-February in which her crew confiscated a variety of illegal narcotics worth a combined $15 million. 

The third haul occurred after the Bahrain-based warship completed a training workout off Oman. it came on the final day in charge of the ship for Commander Ollie Hucker, who has served as her commanding officer for two years. 

“Through [the crew's] efforts and ability, once again, Montrose has made an impact on ensuring that these drugs do not reach their end source,” Hucker said. “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 [employs]."

Images courtesy Royal Navy

The frigate’s Wildcat helicopter crew spotted the suspect vessel during a 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 in range, Montrose launched her boarding team in fast boats. With the team closing in, the dhow came to a halt. An onboard search turned up 50 kilos of hashish and 2,800 kilos of heroin with a wholesale value of $1.4 million and $3.1 million respectively.

At the time of the interdiction, Montrose was attached to the Canadian-led Combined Task Force 150, a multinational coalition aimed at disrupting criminal and terrorist activity and the illegal trade of drugs and weapons in the Indian Ocean.

On Monday, the Royal Navy announced that Montrose will be decommissioned after her return from the Middle East, along with HMS Monmouth. The two vessels are the oldest Type 23 frigates in service, and their retirement will free up funds for investment in future technology and shipbuilding.