Royal Navy seizes 2.4 tonnes of drugs in the Indian Ocean

Topic: Fighting armsSurface Fleet Storyline: HMS Diamond

Royal Navy warship HMS Diamond has seized more than two tonnes of illegal drugs as she struck against traffickers in the Indian Ocean.

A large haul of hashish was found by the destroyer’s sailors and Royal Marines – 2.4 tonnes of illicit narcotics which have now been destroyed.

Operating under the banner of the Canadian-led Combined Task Force 150 – dedicated to stopping criminal activity across more than two million square miles of ocean in the Middle East – the Portsmouth-based warship forced a suspect dhow to halt and then searched the vessel in the punishing 40°C heat of the Gulf of Aden.

It comes as frigate HMS Lancaster, which is also patrolling the Indian Ocean for the Bahrain-based task force, struck twice in 24 hours in April, seizing £33 million of illegal drugs in the process.

Having initially ignored calls from the ship to stop, the craft was halted when the destroyer’s Wildcat helicopter appeared overhead along with both seaboats, all with weapons trained on the dhow.

That led to a nine-hour operation which saw Royal Marines from 42 Commando secure the vessel, to allow Diamond’s Royal Navy boarding team to search for any illicit cargo.

An in-depth search of the dhow recovered numerous packages – found to be containing illegal narcotics upon subsequent testing aboard the destroyer.

Diamond’s success follows a concerted operation in April by CTF150 which led to a series of busts across the Indian Ocean by British, US and Indian vessels, with nearly 5 tonnes of drugs seized and destroyed.

Captain Colin Matthews, the Royal Canadian Navy officer in charge of the international force, said: “This interdiction conducted by HMS Diamond is a great example of the effective collaboration between CMF partners and the CTF 150 team.

“After only couple of days working together, HMS Diamond’s crew and CTF 150 staff were able to have an impact helping to increase the stability and safety for the regional populations and legitimate maritime traffic by interdicting 2382 kg of narcotics.”