Royal Navy warship HMS Dragon has seized three tonnes of hashish in one of the most significant drugs busts in the Gulf this year, dealing a major blow to the funding of terrorism.
The Portsmouth-based Type 45 destroyer was on patrol in the Middle East when they came across a suspicious dhow – a type of vessel common to the Middle East – in a notorious drug smuggling route known as the ‘Hash Highway’.
Sailors and Royal Marines from HMS Dragon launched their fast boats to intercept and board the vessel, before conducting a painstaking search of its compartments.
They ultimately found 148 bags of hashish, weighing around 3,048kg.
Watch the amazing footage of the drugs bust below:
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Alongside keeping key shipping channels safe, countering piracy and providing disaster relief, the Royal Navy makes a significant contribution to global security by tackling the illicit drugs trade."
The ‘Hash Highway’ runs from Afghanistan, a major drugs producer, by land through Iran or Pakistan, and then across the sea to countries in east Africa and the Middle East. Profits from drug smuggling are a known source funding for terrorist organisations and criminal networks.
Lieutenant Laurie Williams is HMS Dragon’s deputy marine engineer officer, and boarding officer. He said: "During our initial search, it became apparent there were a number of reasons to suspect the dhow could be involved in illicit activity."
The haul comes days after HMS Dragon became the first Royal Navy destroyer to work alongside F35 Lightening jets on operations in the Middle East.
Commander Mike Carter-Quinn, HMS Dragon’s Commanding Officer, said: “This seizure is testament not only to days of focused hard work, but also to months of effort in preparation for HMS Dragon’s operational deployment."
HMS Dragon has been working in the Middle East as part of the Combined Task Force 150, a multi-national organisation responsible for maintaining security in some of the world’s most important shipping lanes. HMS Dragon will continue to support the task force over the coming days, before participating in an exercise with the Indian Navy.