Vessel based in Devon carrying drugs

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HMS Montrose (courtesy Royal Navy)

HMS Montrose seizes £15million worth of narcotics

More than a tonne of drugs – worth over £15million – were seized by a Royal Navy warship based in Devon.

The Royal Navy says that during a ten-hour operation, sailors and Royal Marines from HMS Montrose carried away an assortment of heroin, methamphetamine and hashish – depriving criminal and terrorist networks of vital funding .

The frigate – which has been operating continuously in the Middle East for nearly three years – was patrolling for a New Zealand-led task force in the Gulf of Oman when it encountered a suspicious vessel.

Montrose’s boarding party jumped out so quickly that the crew had no time to hide their illegal cargo in a secret compartment – although the boarding party still searched every inch of the boat to s ensure that all the drugs had been recovered.

Lt. Joe Martin, who led the Royal Marines boarding party – the first personnel aboard the suspect vessel – said his team had trained intensively for success. “It was an incredibly rewarding day for me and my team. It’s great to get drugs like this off the streets and we’re good to go.

Montrose Royal Marines approach a drug-filled dhow (courtesy Royal Navy)

Lieutenant Commander Ellis Pearson, Montrose’s weapons engineering officer, added. “The timing of our operation was excellent. As soon as the team boarded the ship, they could see the drugs. Later it turned out that although the captain of the ship had a hiding place ready for the drugs, he did not have time to conceal them at that time.

“The team still carried out a thorough search of the vessel and worked very hard to ensure that we had located all illegal narcotics on board.”

When completed, the drug has 663kg of heroin, 87kg of methamphetamine and 291kg of hashish and marijuana – 1.04 tonnes of illegal narcotics with an estimated wholesale value of £15million.

This is the seventh drug seizure made by the frigate in just under three years in the Middle East, seizures which have deprived criminals and terrorists of funding of just under £80million sterling.

“A seizure of this size will be a serious blow to criminal or terrorist gangs who use these illegal narcotics to finance their activities,” said Montrose Commandant, Commander Claire Thompson. “Disrupting terrorist organisations, criminals and their funding lines is essential to keeping the UK and the rest of the world safe.

“Today we halted the illegal use of the sea. This not only supports our coalition partners, but also supports stability in this part of the world.”

Drugs seized by crew of HMS Montrose allegedly funded terrorism (courtesy Royal Navy)

Earlier this month, HMS Montrose passed the 1,000 day operating milestone out of the Royal Navy’s Middle East Operations Center in Bahrain.

Its sailors are flown to the ship to serve on board for four or five months at a stretch, usually. When his crew are not on the ship, they work at their base in Devonport.

As well as protecting the interests of the UK and its allies, the Plymouth-based warship regularly works alongside international partners from the 34 nations of the Combined Maritime Forces and its several dedicated security and safety task forces. security in the region, including the Royal New Combined Task Force 150 led by the New Zealand Navy.

“Through her perseverance, dedication and professionalism, HMS Montrose has denied criminal and terrorist organizations the ability to use funds from the sale of these illegal narcotics for illicit activities,” said Captain Brendon Clark RNZN , commander of CTF 150.

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