Navy, Coast Guard Battle Smugglers in Gulf of Oman

September 29, 2022Carl Prine
A boarding party from the US Coast Guard cutter Glen Harris (WPC 1144) interdicts a fishing vessel smuggling illegal narcotics in the Gulf of Oman on Aug. 30, 2022. US Coast Guard photo.

A boarding party from the US Coast Guard cutter Glen Harris (WPC 1144) interdicts a fishing vessel smuggling illegal narcotics in the Gulf of Oman on Aug. 30, 2022. US Coast Guard photo.

Over the past month, US forces boarded three boats plying the Gulf of Oman and seized narcotics worth more than $115 million.

The latest raid on the high seas came Wednesday, Sept. 28, when boarding parties from the US Navy’s guided-missile destroyer Delbert D. Black stormed a fishing vessel that officials said was sailing in international waters.

Guarded from above by the “Vipers” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 48, the sailors confiscated 7,200 kilograms of hashish valued at $10 million.

“This seizure is a testament to the professionalism and determination of the ‘Trailblazer’ team,” Cmdr. Mark Gallagher, the destroyer’s commanding officer, said in a prepared statement. “I’m proud of our commitment to regional security and countering illicit activity on the high seas across the Middle East region.” 

gulf of oman

An interdiction team from the guided-missile destroyer Delbert D. Black approaches a fishing vessel in the Gulf of Oman Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, as an MH-60R Sea Hawk attached to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 48 provides aerial support. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeremy R. Boan.

That interdiction came only a day after a boarding party from the US Coast Guard cutter Charles Moulthrope seized 2,410 kilograms of heroin valued at $85 million from a similar fishing boat.

And on Aug. 30, another fishing boat had fallen to the cutter Glen Harris, with Coasties snatching 2,980 kilos of hash and another 320 kilos of methamphetamine pills.

Those contraband narcotics combined to be worth $20 million, according to the Bahrain-based US 5th Fleet.

Although the crew of Delbert D. Black is deployed as part of the George H. W. Bush Carrier Strike Group, they’ve been toiling alongside Saudi-led Combined Maritime Forces in the Gulf of Oman. 

Gulf of Oman

A US Coast Guard boarding party from the cutter Charles Moulthrope seizes bags of illegal narcotics from a fishing vessel sailing in the Gulf of Oman on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. US Coast Guard photo.

The world’s largest naval partnership, with 34 member nations, CMF’s four task forces patrol the Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf, Red Sea, and Gulf of Aden — 3.2 million square miles of international waters — to fight pirates, crack down on smugglers, and spur regional security cooperation.

While Royal Saudi Naval Forces are leading the anti-narcotics campaign and most maritime security patrols in the international waters, Pakistan helms the multinational counterpiracy efforts.

The Kuwait Naval Force is spearheading Persian Gulf operations, and the US Navy is safeguarding the Red Sea, Bab al-Mandeb, and the Gulf of Aden.

The US Navy’s 5th Fleet in Bahrain serves as a headquarters for all the flotillas.

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Carl Prine
Carl Prine

Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

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