Royal Navy, French Navy Team Up for Arabian Sea Drug Bust

All images courtesy Royal Navy

Published Oct 14, 2019 2:17 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Royal Navy and the Marine Nationale recently teamed up to intercept and search a drug-smuggling dhow in the Arabian Sea, recovering a large quantity of narcotics. 

A helicopter from the French frigate FS Jean Bart spotted a suspicious dhow during a patrol, and the Jean Bart dispatched a boarding team to secure the vessel and conduct an initial search. HMS Montrose was nearby and completing an underway replenishment with a U.S. Navy fleet oiler that morning, according to commanding officer Cmdr. Ollie Hucker. When she was done refueling, she got underway to assist the French boarding party. 

Upon arrival, a Royal Navy and Royal Marines team from HMS Montrose took over the search of the vessel, and the team located and seized a large number of packages containing the drugs. Part of the operation took place in the dark, according to HMS Montrose RIB coxswain Ben Davies, making it more challenging than a daytime interdiction.

“This demonstrates the flexibility and professionalism of the Royal Navy and French Navy and the very close interoperability with our coalition allies," said Cmdr. Hucker in a statement. "Seizures like these put a dent in the funding of wider illicit and illegal activity."

The latest seizure brings the total of drugs captured by Combined Maritime Forces allied warships since the start of 2019 to over two tonnes of heroin, 130 kilos of methamphetamine and nearly 50,000 kilos of hashish. In total, this amounts to about $46 million in value, and it is ahead of the total achieved during the same period last year. There is stil a ways to go to beat the total for 2018: the end of last year, allied warships seized narcotics worth over $75 million.