A French ship working in support of a Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) task force has seized over one tonne of hashish worth $8 million, 8 November 20.

Sailors on board French Ship Floréal, the lead Floréal-class frigate, captured the drugs from a suspicious vessel during a counter-narcotics operation in the Arabian Sea’s infamous ‘Hash Highway’.

The ship was operating in support of CMF’s Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150) at the time of the seizure, which comes just weeks after a Royal Navy ship working as part of a CTF 150 operation intercepted over 450kg of methamphetamine.  

“This seizure marks yet another successful drugs bust by CTF 150,” said the task force’s Commander, Rear Admiral Sulieman Alfakeeh of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces. “With two successful drugs seizures in a matter of weeks, we are proving that we are a formidable force against drug smugglers, keeping millions of dollars of illegal substances off the streets.”

A team of French sailors conducted the boarding of the suspicious vessel, which was sailing along a route known for transiting drugs.

Members of the French boarding team had to transit to and from the suspicious vessel

The one tonne haul of hashish was well-hidden on board the vessel and required an extensive search by the highly trained boarding team, made even more challenging by the threat of COVID.  The ship’s medical team was responsible for decontaminating all personnel and all equipment to ensure the safety of its personnel was maintained.

This drugs seizure marks another success in a long string of CMF activities; in addition to the historic Royal Navy methamphetamine seizure in October, last month the USS Winston S. Churchill assisted an Iranian-flagged motor vessel in distress while in support of CTF 150. In the last few days, the French Ship Jean Bart, alongside the Japanese Ship Ariake, operating under a CTF 151 tasking, provided the medical evacuation of an injured mariner. 

Last month, crew from USS Winston S. Churchill came to the aid of a stranded Iranian dhow while under CMF tasking

“The Combined Maritime Forces is founded on a shared commitment to ensuring the safety of all legitimate mariners at sea,” said Commodore Dean Bassett Royal Navy, Deputy Commander of the Combined Maritime Forces. “Sometimes this involves assisting those in distress, and other times it targets those who seek to use the maritime environment to conduct illegal activities such as terrorism, smuggling and piracy.”

The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) is a multinational maritime partnership which exists to counter illicit non-state actors on the high seas, promoting security, stability and prosperity in the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman. CTF 150 operates to disrupt and deny criminal and terrorist organizations operating outside of the Arabian Gulf, to ensure that legitimate commercial shipping can transit the region, free from non-state threats. CTF 150 is currently led by the Royal Saudi Naval Force, the second time that the country’s Navy has led the task force.