HMS Lancaster seized £2.5m of hashish, also known as cannabis resin, while patrolling in the Arabian Sea, the Royal Navy announced 10 May.
The seizure came within a few days of the Lancaster’s participation in the evacuation from Sudan, after sunset on 8 May. While operating as part of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, dedicated to anti-smuggling and anti-terrorist activity, Royal Marine commandos boarded a suspicious boat that was found to contain 3.2 tonnes of hashish.
Nearly 200 packages were discovered, Kachin containing around 11kg of cannabis resin, estimated to have a wholesale value of £2.5m in the UK.
According to Warrant Officer Gaz Head, Executive Warrant Officer of HMS Lancaster, the ship’s crew worked “tirelessly” through the night after discovering a ship carrying illegal narcotics.
“Everyone involved, be it the Royal Marine or Royal Navy boarding team, the boat crews, the drugs embarkation team, operators in the operations room, engineers in the ship control centre and on the bridge, or simply those picking up the slack elsewhere in the ship and keeping the internal mechanism moving, should be justly proud of this significant seizure and the effort given that made it possible.”
Commander Tom Johnson, the Commanding Officer of Lancaster, expressed his pride in his team’s efforts last night, which led to the seizure of over three tonnes of narcotics.
The Arabian Sea has been the site of a number of high value drug seizures in recent months, but this is the first involving the Lancaster since it replaced the HMS Montrose in the mission last Autumn. The Montrose seized nearly £50m of drugs last year, across five separate seizures.
Lancaster also successfully intercepted an illegal weapons haul earlier this year, including anti-tank missiles.
CTF 150 is a 34-nation coalition of combined maritime forces based in Bahrain. Currently the mission is commanded by the Royal Navy, from January to July this year, under Royal Navy Captain James Byron, who has successfully led CTF 150 to intercept £40m of illegal narcotics. Command of the CTF 150 rotates between member nations every 6 months.