Royal Navy Frigate Seizes $45 Million Worth of Meth in Gulf of Oman

Image courtesy CMF

Published Oct 9, 2022 5:33 PM by The Maritime Executive

On October 2, a Royal Navy frigate seized a remarkable 870-kilo shipment of methamphetamine in the waters of the Gulf of Oman. U.S. 5th Fleet estimates the value of the seizure at about $45 million, or about $50,000 per kilo. 

Montrose was operating under the aegis of Combined Task Force 150, a division of the 30-nation Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), the world's largest naval partnership. CTF 150 is one of four naval groups spread across more than three million square of ocean from the Red Sea to the western seaboard of the Indian sub-continent. The task force is dedicated to keeping sea lanes open and targeting illegal activity on the high seas. Montrose has been patrolling the Middle East for CMF since 2019, and this was her fifth drug bust of the year.

“HMS Montrose again proves the value of having a forward-deployed presence in the region,” said Cmdr. Claire Thompson, the ship’s commanding officer. "Disrupting terrorist organizations, criminals and their funding lines is key to keeping to UK, and rest of the world, safe."

An aircrew aboard Montrose's helicopter monitored the suspect dhow and vectored in an embarked boarding team of Royal Marines. Despite choppy conditions, the boarding team made its way to the dhow to conduct a search. They found a secret compartment on board and uncovered the stash of amphetamines. 

According to the Royal Navy, the seizure was worth $16 million and brings the Montrose's total seizures for the year to $52 million. The U.S. Navy's value estimates are approximately three times larger. 

In March, HMS Montrose's crew made the heaviest drug bust (by weight) the Royal Navy has captured in 10 years, seizing 6.5 tonnes of hashish from a suspect dhow in the Gulf of Oman. In a dawn raid, the commandos and sailors of her boarding team conducted a five-hour search of the suspect vessel while the ship’s helicopter provided 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.”