Skip to content
Recruiting now.Explore navy careers

Royal Navy-led task force snares £17m illegal drugs in Middle East

25 April 2023
A Royal Navy-led task force has delivered another blow to drug runners in the Middle East, bagging a £17m haul.

US Navy destroyer USS Paul Hamilton – operating under Combined Task Force 150, commanded by Captain Jim Byron and his team in Bahrain – intercepted a suspicious vessel in the northern Arabian Sea in the small hours of Friday.

The Hamilton’s boarding team seized – and subsequently – destroyed one tonne of hashish and 800kgs of methamphetamine with a combined UK wholesale value of £17.2m.

It brings the haul of illicit drugs intercepted by the international task force since Capt Byron and his staff took the helm in January to £36.8m, including more than six tonnes of hashish and over 1½ tonnes of methamphetamine.

The force focuses on curbing illegal/terrorist activity across more than 2½ million square miles of ocean with several warships from the Combined Maritime Forces – more than 30 nations committed to security in the Middle East region – patrolling the vast area.

“It’s fantastic to see Combined Task Force 150’s 24/7 routine maritime security operations lead to successful narcotics interdictions which have denied in excess of 8.7 tons of illegal drugs from the criminal networks that profit from them, in under four months!” said Commander David Armstrong, the Royal Navy’s deputy commander of CTF 150.

I’m delighted that we have once again been able to disrupt the flow of illegal narcotics in the northern Arabian Sea which will ultimately prevent them from reaching people in Europe, Africa and the Seychelles.

Capt Byron

The latest interdiction came on the back of a visit by Capt Byron to the Seychelles – one of the potential destinations of the drugs – to discuss stopping any flow of illegal cargoes into the country with government ministers and the Chief of Seychelles Defence Force, plus continued cooperation between the Combined Maritime Forces and the Seychelles.

“I’m delighted that we have once again been able to disrupt the flow of illegal narcotics in the northern Arabian Sea which will ultimately prevent them from reaching people in Europe, Africa and the Seychelles,” said Capt Byron.

“This kind of interdiction was a key topic of conversation during my visit to the Seychelles and I hope to continue this success in cooperation with our international partners.”

CTF150 is one of four task forces operating under the Combined Maritime Forces, and is under Royal Navy tutelage for the 11th time.

Related articles

Navy News Magazine

We bring you the latest news, features and award-winning photographs from the front-line. Navy News has been reporting on all that happens in the Royal Navy and its wider community since 1954.