The USS Laboon intercepted a small vessel in international waters that was carrying nearly six hundred pounds of heroin while conducting maritime security operations as a part of the Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 of the Combined Maritime Forces in the Arabian Sea.
The small vessel was considered “stateless” in that it carried no national registration or flag to indicate its country of origin, prompting the Laboon to conduct a standard inspection of the vessel. It was during said inspection that the heroin was discovered below the deck of the ship.
“Keeping these drugs off the street helps everyone, and keeps money from those who use the profits for harm,” said Commander Jason Labott, the Laboon’s commanding officer.
Intercepting the vessel was an international effort, led by the USS Laboon but aided in large part by Royal Navy vessels from the U.K. under the command of the Royal Canadian Navy.
“The execution of this operation demonstrates the abilities of multinational forces to coordinate across great distances for the common good of the international community,” Labott said. “The hard work and professionalism of our boarding team, Laboon’s crew, air crews from RFA Fort Victoria, and the shore side support of CTF-150 and Destroyer Squadron 50 deserve great credit.”
RFA Fort Victoria tracked the vessel by launching a helicopter, which then coordinated the Laboon’s efforts to intercept it. This marks the second such drug seizure conducted by the international task force in just the past two weeks, once again demonstrating CTF 150’s ability to coordinate multiple aircraft and vessels from various national fleets in order to achieve objectives.
“The impressive work of Combined Task Force 150, under the leadership of Royal Canadian Navy Commodore Haydn Edmundson, continued last night with the second successful seizure of illegal drugs in less than two weeks,” said Vice. Adm. Kevin Donegan, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.
“The March 2 seizure by HMAS Arunta and last night’s seizure by USS Laboon has resulted in preventing more than a thousand kilograms of combined hashish and heroin from reaching their destination and will prevent transnational terrorists from profiting off these nefarious activities.”
The commander of the combined task force, Royal Canadian Navy Commodore Haydn C. Edmundson, echoed Admiral Donegan’s sentiments in an official statement he gave the press after the seizure.
“We in the CTF 150 headquarters are very impressed with the superb cooperation of all units and organizations involved in this successful operation and we are particularly proud of the captain and crew of USS Laboon for their excellent performance on this important mission.”
This seizure marks the first time an American vessel has been directly involved in such an operation since May of 2014. The Laboon departed from its home port of Norfolk, Virginia in January and has been in the region since February.
The primary objective of CTF 150 is to disrupt terrorist organizations and hinder their activities in the Arabian Sea, such as denying them the freedom to maneuver throughout the region’s waterways. Since its inception in 2002, CTF 150 has seized and destroyed billions of dollars worth of drugs and thousands of weapons intended to supply or enrich terrorist organizations.
Image courtesy of the U.S. Navy