The Royal Navy delivered its fourth blow to drug traffickers in the Middle East in as many months as HMS Montrose seized nearly £2m heroin.
The frigate pounced on a dhow while conducting a sweep of the Gulf of Oman with an international task force dedicated to stopping criminal and terrorist activity.
After a team of Royal Marines secured the suspect vessel, sailors scoured the craft from bow to stern in a nine-hour operation.
They discovered numerous sacks hidden aboard – sacks which tests showed contained heroin. The seizure came to 90 kilograms, worth £1.8m on the streets of the UK.
It brings Montrose’s haul since mid-January to £97m of illegal narcotics – heroin, cannabis and methamphetamines.
And it means more than 18 tonnes of drugs have been kept off the streets of the UK – or other countries – since she began operating in the Middle East in January 2019.
“The world-leading Royal Navy is demonstrating its value, in this case denying criminals a source of income and keeping drugs off our streets,” said James Heappey, Minister for the Armed Forces.
“Our sailors are operating side by side with allies and friends, upholding the international rules-based system and promoting global security.”
Lieutenant Chris Bonnick, the Royal Marine in charge of HMS Montrose’s commando detachment – normally based at Bickleigh, near Plymouth, said the ship was delighted with its latest success.
He added: “Being part of the team that secured the vessel and then discovered the drugs in large sacks hidden within the dhow, was really satisfying.
“At 42 Commando we train for this type of work constantly and it is fantastic to see that training deliver operational success with our Royal Navy colleagues.”
Montrose was working with the Pakistani-led Combined Task Force 150 – 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 dedicated to keeping sea lanes open and strangling illegal activity on the high seas.
They operate under the banner of the Bahrain-based Combined Maritime Forces, a coalition of more than 30 nations committed to the safety and security in the Middle East.
“I am very proud of my ship’s company for their efforts in disrupting the global drugs trade and preventing this illicit activity at sea,” said Montrose’s Commanding Officer Commander Paul Irving.
“It requires my whole team to work together in this type of operation, and once again they have delivered.”