An Esquimalt-based ship made its second drug bust this month after seizing more than three tonnes of hashish in the Indian Ocean.
On Monday, HMCS Regina crews spotted a suspicious fishing vessel, known as a “dhow,” off the coast of Oman. It was in an area known as the hash highway.
The ship deployed its Naval Tactical Operations Group (NTOG) team, a dedicated Royal Canadian Navy unit that specializes in advanced boarding operations at sea.
The NTOG team found 150 bags of hashish — over three tonnes worth — on the dhow and the narcotics were transferred to HMCS Regina and subsequently destroyed.
According to a Facebook post on the Canadian Armed Forces Operations page, had HMCS Regina not intervened, the hashish would have been sold locally or in other markets. The profits would benefit organized crime networks and terrorist organizations.
On April 6, the same ship seized more than 2.5 tonnes of hashish from a dhow off the coast of Oman.
The HMCS Regina is deployed in the Indian Ocean as part of the Canadian Armed Forces ongoing contribution to counter-terrorism and maritime security operations in Middle Eastern and East African waters, also known as Operation ARTEMIS.
The warship is operating in the region as part of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 15o) which is currently being led by Pakistan. CTF 150 is a task force under the Combined Maritime Forces, which is a naval coalition of 33 nations.
The task force works primarily to stop terrorist organizations from smuggling weapons, illicit cargo and narcotics, while protecting merchant shops.
This week’s seizure is the second one for HMCS Regina since it joined Operation ARTEMIS at the end of March.
HMCS Regina departed for a seven-month deployment to the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions on Feb. 6. It was accompanied by the Asterix, a replenishing ship filled with fuel and supplies, as well as a Cyclone helicopter from the maritime helicopter squadron task force. This is the first deployment for the Cyclone unit.