Navy frigate, Wildcat helicopter and Commandos join forces to bust £15.5m crystal meth stash in Arabian Sea

Navy frigate, Wildcat helicopter and Commandos join forces to bust £15.5m crystal meth stash in Arabian Sea

A Royal Navy frigate and its Wildcat helicopter joined forces with Commandos to bust a £15.5m crystal meth haul stashed on a boat in the Arabian Sea.

It is the fifth major narcotics raid this year by the frigate.

HMS Montrose targeted the small traditional dhow vessel after the Wildcat helicopter tracked the movements of the suspect boat.

A boarding party of Royal Marines searched the vessel and found 870kg of crystal methamphetamine in a secret compartment following the six-hour operation.

The haul has a wholesale value of £15.5m, according to the National Crime Agency.

A Royal Navy spokesman said: “HMS Montrose pounced, after her Wildcat helicopter located and tracked the suspect dhow until the frigate was in range to launch her boarding teams in her boats.

“Royal Marines from 42 Commando, the UK military’s specialists in these operations, seized control of the vessel in choppy conditions, before sailors moved in to search the craft for any illegal cargo, while overhead the Wildcat observed proceedings and provided cover for those scouring the dhow for her illicit cargo.

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“Persistence from the boarding team led to a secret compartment being found aboard the vessel, revealing hidden illegal narcotics.”

HMS Montrose, which has been based in the Middle East since 2019, has intercepted narcotics worth nearly £47m this year.

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An HMS Montrose boarding team enter a suspicious dhow during a raid in 2020

‘Huge blow to dealers’

Commander Claire Thompson, the frigate’s commanding officer, said the operation had “disrupted the unlawful use of the oceans”.

She added: “A seizure of this size will deal a huge blow to the criminal or terrorist gangs using these illegal narcotics to fund their activity.

“This success proves we will persistently deny criminals the freedom to conduct their illegal activity on the high seas.

“Disrupting terrorist organisations, criminals and their funding lines is key to keeping the UK, and rest of the world, safe.

“It is a privilege to command HMS Montrose and the incredibly professional, highly-trained and dedicated personnel that I have on my team.

“I could not be prouder of each and every one of them.”