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News | Dec. 16, 2021

U.S. Navy Rescues Mariners Smuggling Illicit Drugs

By 5th Fleet Public Affairs - NAVCENT

U.S. Navy personnel rescued five mariners Dec. 15 after a fire caused an explosion aboard their vessel, which was smuggling illicit drugs while transiting the Gulf of Oman.

U.S. Navy patrol craft USS Sirocco (PC 6) observed the mariners in distress and immediately rendered assistance while conducting a counter-narcotics patrol. Sailors from Sirocco safely rescued five mariners injured in the explosion. One mariner remains missing.

The injured mariners, who identified themselves as Iranian citizens, were later transported to expeditionary mobile base platform ship USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3). Two were flown by helicopter to Oman for medical treatment, and the other three mariners were later transported to Oman for eventual repatriation.

Prior to the fire, international maritime forces suspected the vessel of transporting illicit drugs. Sirocco was operating as part of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, one of three task forces under Combined Maritime Forces, the world’s largest naval partnership.

Sirocco seized more than 1,745 kilograms of hashish, 500 kilograms of methamphetamine, and 30 kilograms of heroin all worth an estimated total of $14.7 million.

CTF 150 conducts maritime security and counter-terrorism operations at sea, outside the Arabian Gulf, to disrupt criminal and terrorist organizations and their related illicit activities, including the movement of personnel, weapons, narcotics and charcoal. These efforts help ensure legitimate commercial shipping transits the region free from non-state threats.

Combined Maritime Forces consists of 34 nations whose naval vessels and personnel operate in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Northern Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf promoting security and stability.