The UK and France commanded a multinational naval task force which has scored eight drugs busts over a five-month period in the Gulf and Indian Ocean, seizing 1.75 tonnes of narcotics worth nearly £400 million (US$500 million), including 265kg of heroin and 455kg of hashish by the Royal Navy Type 23 frigate, HMS Monmouth.
Since April, British, French, US and Australian warships in Combined Task Force 150 (CTF150) took part in Operation Southern Surge to counter narcotics trafficking, which funds terrorism in the region, scoring eight drugs busts.
The naval task force polices more than three million square miles of sea in order to track down vessels smuggling drugs and weapons, as well as providing reassurance to ships using the international waters. The multinational coalition is also focused on deterring and denying maritime terrorist activity in the region, which includes some of the world’s most vital trade routes such as the Suez Canal and Bab Al Mandeb Strait. The headquarters of CTF150 has been made up of 24 British and French sailors and commanded by French Rear Admiral Olivier Lebas.
The Franco-British team has been directing operations since April after taking over from the Canadian Navy, and has just passed on command to the Pakistan Navy. Navies from the Combined Maritime Forces, a coalition of 31 nations, take it in turns to lead the task force either from a command ship or the headquarters in Bahrain.