HMS Defender Seizes Record Haul of Crystal Meth

On 19 December, Her Majesty’s Ship (HMS) DEFENDER, a UK Royal Navy destroyer operating in the Gulf of Oman in direct support of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150), seized 131 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine from a dhow they had been following.

The suspicious vessel was first detected using DEFENDER’s ‘WILDCAT’ shipborne helicopter. DEFENDER then closed the dhow and a team of Royal Marine Commandos in Pacific 24 sea boats boarded and secured the vessel. It was then searched by a Royal Navy boarding team who found 11 packages of narcotics, with an estimated regional wholesale value of $280,000 U.S. dollars.

The Commanding Officer of HMS Defender, Cdr Richard Hewitt MBE said: “I am really proud that Defender has been able to interdict such a significant quantity of drugs and prevent it reaching the streets. Even over the festive season, the Royal Navy is at sea 24/7 working as part of Combined Task Force 150. This has been a real boost for the ship’s company as they face Christmas away from their loved ones.”

HMS DEFENDER’s haul, on their first day working under Combined Maritime Forces, is CTF150’s largest interdiction of crystal methamphetamine for 2019; more than doubling the amount seized so far. It takes CTF150’s overall narcotics seizures this year to $48.5m.

“This is the second narcotics shipment in a week we’ve kept from reaching its destination,” said Commodore Ray Leggatt, Royal Australian Navy, Commander of CTF 150. “With this action, and more to come, we are impacting terrorists’ ability to operate in this region and around the world. Well done to the crew of HMS DEFENDER for their keen eye, skill, and precision in prosecuting this high seas take down.”

Australia assumed command of CTF 150 in early December, with a staff made up of personnel from the Royal Australian, Royal Canadian, and Royal New Zealand navies. HMS DEFENDER’s success under their command follows that of French Ship Courbet last weekend, who seized 3,545kg of hashish with an estimated regional wholesale value of $1.8m.

CTF150 has seen a huge increase in the amount of crystal methamphetamine being smuggled year on year, with 257kg interdicted to date in 2019, versus only 9kg in 2018.

CTF 150’s mission is to disrupt terrorist organisations and their related illegal activities by restricting their freedom of manoeuvre in the maritime domain. The activities of CTF 150 are a critical part of global counter-terrorism efforts, as terrorist organisations are denied a risk-free method of conducting operations or moving personnel, weapons or income-generating narcotics and charcoal.

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