The UK Royal Navy has seized an £8.5m haul of heroin after a raid on a suspect vessel in the northern Arabian Sea.
Nearly 60 kilograms of the drug was seized by sailors and Royal Marines from HMS Somerset, the Plymouth-based Type 23 Frigate, who intercepted the fishing boat in Royal Navy fast boats.
HMS Somerset’s crew found the dhow – a type of vessel common to the Middle East and Indian Ocean – during an operation for the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) counter terrorism Combined Task Force (CTF) 150.
Under Secretary of State and the Lords Spokesman on Defence, Lord Astor, said: “This drugs seizure follows other recent successful interdiction and deterrence operations across the globe by the Royal Navy which all play a vital role in helping to protect us here at home.”
Royal Navy Commodore Jeremy Blunden, Commander of CFT 150, said: “This is the ninth seizure of heroin that CTF 150 has made this year as part of a determined effort to combat both the flow of heroin across the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean to East Africa, and funding to terrorist organisations.
HMS Somerset’s Lynx helicopter was launched to intercept the dhow and guide the boarding team to its exact location. Once on board, the Royal Navy team worked tirelessly for 23 hours to find the contraband’s hiding place, stashed under a false deck.
The drugs were then brought on board HMS Somerset where they were tested for purity before being destroyed.
Captain Steve Taylor Royal Marines, the officer in charge of the boarding team from 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group, said: “Boarding is very unpredictable by its nature as you simply do not know what you will be faced with.
“The length of time it took to get this result makes the discovery even sweeter and this was a genuine whole-ship effort.”
HMS Somerset passed through the Suez Canal at the beginning of the year and has since carried out maritime security patrols in the busy trading regions of the Gulf and the Indian Ocean. The Type 23 frigate’s first drugs haul this deployment came only a few days after joining CTF 150.
Press Release, May 29, 2014