The Navy seized an estimated $1 million in drugs this past weekend while rescuing a group of Iranian and Pakistani nationals who set fire to their fishing vessel in the Gulf of Oman, service officials said.
The Cyclone-class patrol ship Sirocco saved the civilian mariners on Oct. 29 while conducting a counter-smuggling operation in international waters, a press release from U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said.
Two other Cyclone-class patrol ships, the Chinook and Thunderbolt, extinguished the blaze before it later sank from significant damage, the release added.
The mariners, who jumped into the water after igniting their boat in flames, were smuggling hashish and methamphetamines. After receiving immediate medical care, they were transferred for additional treatment and repatriation.
“This was a superb effort by all of our crews,” Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, said in a release. “I couldn’t be prouder of everyone involved in saving lives while carrying out our mission to disrupt destabilizing maritime activity.”
Naval forces recovered around 1,230 pounds of hashish, worth an estimated $1 million, which accounted for about one-third of the total shipment. The rest was destroyed in the fire.
The incident came only three days after the sea service saved another three civilian mariners in the Gulf of Aden, where their small motorboat caught on fire.
In that case, sailors from the Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyer Nitze and the Cyclone-class patrol ship Monsoon assisted the mariners before their vessel sank in international waters roughly 50 miles off the coast of Yemen.
Last year, the Sirocco rescued five Iranian smugglers from a burning vessel during another counter-smuggling operation in the Gulf of Oman, Navy Times previously reported. Navy personnel seized approximately $14.7 million worth of hashish, methamphetamine and heroin in the bust.
Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media