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Third strike from HMS Montrose as Navy bags £3m drugs

Montrose's crew with the drugs haul on the flight deck
22 March 2021
Drugs worth more than £3m to terrorists have been seized by Royal Navy warship HMS Montrose – her third bust in little over a month.

The frigate pounced on a suspect dhow in the northern Arabian Sea, recovering nearly three tonnes of hash and heroin in a ten-hour operation.

It comes on the back of two seizures in as many days in the same waters in mid-February when various illegal narcotics worth £11m were confiscated.

The third haul occurred after the Bahrain-based warship completed a major training workout off Oman – and on the final day in charge of the ship for Commanding Officer Commander Ollie Hucker after two years at the helm.

“Through their efforts and ability, once again, Montrose has made an impact on ensuring that these drugs do not reach their end source,” the 39-year-old said.

“Be it my first day or my last day, these results only happen because of the collective effort and skill of the incredibly professional, highly trained and dedicated people that the Royal Navy employ, and that I have the privilege to command.”

The latest success began thanks to the sharp-eyed crew of the frigate’s Wildcat helicopter who spotted the suspect vessel during a routine dawn patrol.

“When we radioed in what we’d found, the ship turned to steam towards us, and the chain had started, ultimately leading to this success,” said Lieutenant Max Cosby, the Wildcat’s commander.

When we radioed in what we’d found, the ship turned to steam towards us, and the chain had started, ultimately leading to this success. Hearing ‘Go’ on the radio when we made our approach to the dhow was exhilarating.

Flight Commander Lieutenant Max Cosby

Once within close range, Montrose launched her commando boarding team in fast boats. The combined display of force – with the helicopter overhead providing cover – brought the drug runners to a halt.

The search of the dhow by sailors and marines resulted in 50kg hashish and 2,800kg heroin – with a wholesale value of £1m and £2.24m respectively.

“This was about seizing the moment and taking the opportunity,” said Lieutenant Sam Gorton, the Royal Marine in charge of seizing the dhow.

“My boarding team were slick, proficient and for their efforts they successfully stopped the vessel, safely embarked and discovered the drugs. It has been a good deployment and I am hugely proud of my team for their achievements.”

Lieutenant Cosby added: “Hearing ‘Go’ on the radio when we made our approach to the dhow was exhilarating.

“The satisfaction of landing back onboard knowing our crew and the Wildcat have delivered on operations when it mattered could not have been better.”

Montrose was attached to a Canadian-led task group at the time of her success, Combined Task Force 150 which is committed to disrupting criminal and terrorist activity and the and illegal trade of drugs and weapons in the Indian Ocean.

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