The U.S. Navy reported on December 30 that two coastal patrol ships seized nearly 840 pounds of heroin, worth approximately $4 million, from a nationless fishing vessel in the Arabian Sea on December 27.
Forces found the illegal shipment while conducting a flag-verification-boarding following customary international law. U.S. forces seized and destroyed the drugs at sea.
The coastal patrol ships were part of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150), an international task force that has increased regional patrols to locate and disrupt illegal maritime activity. The Navy says CTF 150 is one of Combined Maritime Forces’ three task forces.
RZN, a news outlet in New Zealand, reported that crews spotted the boat during routine surveillance.
Royal New Zealand Navy Captain Brendon Clark, the CFT 150 commander, said the December 27 seizure demonstrates the task force is ready to conduct search and seize operations at any time.
“This latest seizure is a demonstration that CTF 150 and assigned surface and air assets are ready to conduct interdiction operations 365 days a year,” he said.
In 2021, CTF 150 seized illegal drugs worth more than $193 million (wholesale prices). According to the Navy, this amount is more than the total amount of drugs interdicted by the task force in the previous four years combined.
“This interdiction highlights the incredible work of our ships and sailors and serves as a reminder of the value in having forward-deployed naval forces on scene and ready,” said Lieutenant Commander Jordan Bradford, Typhoon’s commanding officer from Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
Outside the Arabian Gulf, international naval forces supporting CTF 150 conduct maritime security and counter-terrorism operations regularly to disrupt criminal and terrorist organizations and their related illicit activities, such as the movement of personnel, weapons, narcotics, and charcoal. These efforts help ensure that legitimate commercial shipping can pass through the region without being threatened by non-state actors.
After seizing the drugs, the US.. Navy released the stateless fishing vessel and its nine crew members, who identified as Iranian nationals.
The Combined Maritime Forces are the world’s largest multinational naval alliance. The organization is headquartered in Bahrain and includes the United States Naval Forces Central Command and the United States Fifth Fleet.