Boarding teams from the French Marine Nationale guided-missile stealth frigate Guépratte (F714) interdict a fishing vessel in international waters in the North Arabian Sea, Dec. 27, 2022. French Marine Nationale photo.
A French stealth warship boarded and seized a fishing vessel in the Arabian Sea, bagging narcotics with a street value of $24 million, according to the US 5th Fleet in Bahrain.
Part of Combined Task Force 150, the guided-missile stealth frigate was patrolling international waters on the northern cusp of the Arabian Sea on Dec. 27 when it came across the boat.
Two boarding parties raced to the vessel, seized it, and then uncovered 3,492 kilograms of hashish and 472 kilograms of heroin, according to a prepared statement released by US 5th Fleet.
It’s the second large haul of heroin by the frigate in less than a year. Eleven months ago, its sailors confiscated 271 kilograms of heroin from another fishing boat plying the Gulf of Oman.
The guided-missile frigates Guépratte and Aconit pass each other in the Suez Canal on Dec. 17, 2022. Aconit returned to its homeport in Toulon while Guépratte began patrolling Middle Eastern waters in the US 5th Fleet area of operations. Le ministère des Armées photo.
But the La Fayette-class frigate had just arrived back in the Middle East before its latest raid.
Guépratte left Toulon, France, on Dec. 12 for the Persian Gulf, where it was slated to relieve its sister stealth warship Aconit, which was engaged in the Pearl of the West maneuvers alongside the armed forces of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
Five days later, the warships passed each other in the Suez Canal. Aconit returned to its homeport in Toulon, and Guépratte’s 141 officers and crew reported for duty with the Saudi-led CTF-150.
US Navy sailors from the guided-missile destroyer Nitze provide fuel to a civilian vessel stranded in the Arabian Sea, Aug. 27, 2022, in the US 5th Fleet area of operations. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Cryton Vandiesal.
CTF-150 is one of four task forces organized under the Combined Maritime Forces in the Middle East.
With 34 nations in the flotilla, it's the largest international naval partnership in the world.
Since 2021, it's seized nearly $1 billion worth of illegal narcotics, according to the US 5th Fleet.
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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