HMS Lancaster Seizes Nearly Four Tonnes of Drugs on First Day of New Patrol

drug seizure
Royal Navy HMS Lancaster completed two seizures of illegal drugs (Royal Navy photos)

Published Apr 13, 2024 3:37 PM by The Maritime Executive


Efforts are continuing under the international Combined Task Force 150 to interrupt the illegal narcotics trade in the Indian Ocean. In the latest incident, the UK’s Royal Navy reports its frigate HMS Lancaster conducted two raids in less than 24 hours seizing nearly four tonnes of illicit narcotics.

The 4,900 dwt frigate which was commissioned in 1992, was on her first day of security patrol following a period of operational sea training and assurance according to the Royal Navy. She is operating as part of the task force currently being commanded by the Canadians as part of a rotating international command.

HMS Lancaster was on the first patrol when her Wildcat helicopter spotted a suspect vessel during a routine sortie. Royal Marines from 42 Commando secured the vessel as part of an eight-hour operation during which the Lancaster’s Royal Navy boarding team looked for illicit cargo.

An in-depth search of the dhow recovered nearly 100 packages – each containing smaller parcels, found upon subsequent testing aboard HMS Lancaster to contain hashish, heroin, and crystal meth.



The Royal Navy reports the crew were still celebrating their success when the Wildcat helicopter launched on a dusk patrol for another sweep of the Indian Ocean. The aircrew again came across a suspicious dhow. Lancaster tracked the vessel through the night, then intervened at dawn.

Once again, the Commandos boarded and secured the dhow before sailors joined them to conduct a comprehensive search. This time, over six hours, they recovered 2.4 tonnes of hashish – bringing the two-day haul to 3.7 tonnes of illegal drugs.



“I am exceptionally proud of the entire team in Lancaster executing these two interdictions on the first two days of our deployment,” said the frigate’s Commanding Officer Commander Chris Sharp. “Complex interceptions like these in such a challenging environment require true teamwork across the entire ship’s company.”

Collectively, the tally from the two drug hauls comes in at just under £33 million (US$41.1 million) according to the UK’s National Crime Agency. The heroin, hashish, and crystal meth found by Lancaster’s sailors and Royal Marines has now been destroyed. The frigate was returning to her normal station after a stint in the Red Sea earlier this year along with HMS Diamond and HMS Richmond which were deployed to the Red Sea. During her patrols in the Indian Ocean, Lancaster has completed several large drug busts as well as in May 2023 seizing a cargo of ballistic missile components and other weaponry from Iran believed to be headed for the Houthis in Yemen.