A Royal Navy warship has seized more than 450kg of drugs in the northern Arabian Sea in the largest-ever bust by a joint maritime operation in the region.
The methamphetamine recovered by Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose had a wholesale value of £18m, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) said.
The drugs were found hidden on board a stateless dhow, a traditional cargo ship that travels the Persian Gulf and surrounding waters, on 14 October.
Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey: "Following several large drugs busts by the Royal Navy in the Caribbean, HMS Montrose has conducted the most successful counter-methamphetamine operation ever in the Middle East.
"Organised crime funds terrorism and by preventing these drugs reaching the open market, HMS Montrose has directly interrupted illegal activity that causes considerable harm across the globe."
In rough seas, and aided by HMS Montrose’s Wildcat helicopter, sailors and Royal Marines boarded the vessel and found the drugs hidden amongst the boat's cargo.
Commander Charles Collins, Commanding Officer of HMS Montrose, said: "Every sailor and marine, airman and woman, alongside our international partners, should be proud to have contributed to the success of this operation which has undoubtedly kept millions of pounds of drugs off our streets."
The operation, part of the Combined Maritime Forces' (CMF) Operation SEA SHIELD, was an international effort involving several of CMF’s member nations and partners.
The task force said it was unable to say where the drugs came from, who manufactured them or their ultimate destination.
The Royal Navy has a permanent presence in the region, including HMS Montrose, four Mine Countermeasure Vessels, HMS Brocklesby, HMS Chiddingfold, HMS Penzance and HMS Shoreham, as well as a Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ship, RFA Cardigan Bay.
Earlier this year, HMS Montrose intercepted more than a tonne of cannabis, said to have a street value of £6m, while on patrol in the Gulf of Oman.
Cover image: HMS Montrose crew with the seized 450kg of methamphetamine (Picture: MOD).