55 Field Surgical Team RAMC

Arms Smuggling in 1965

In February 1965 there were indications that arms smuggling into Oman was increasing. The Base Intelligence Officer In Bahrain, Major R.P. Owen R.M. alerts his contacts.

In May 1965 an Iraqi motor launch was intercepted in the Shatt Al Arab waterway leading from Basrah to the Persian Gulf

In October there are some worries that arms are being smuggliged into the Kuria Muria Islands off the coast of Dhofar

A further alarm occured in October when a boom was seen to leave the port of Khor Fakkan and head to the south east. Khor Fakkan is a port to the north west of Muscat and belongs to the emirate of Sharjah, is surrounded by the emirate of Fujairah and also has nearby boundaries with Oman. The proximity of these three authorities must have made it particularly difficult to police the state boundaries and to control what went into and what came out of the port. Hence the anxiety about the big two masted boom. It was intercepted and escorted to Muscat but no thorough search ensued for what were probably practical reasons.

A British Diplomatic or foreign office official official – D.C. Carden – found himself on a Strick Line ship sailing from Aden up the coast of South Yemen. He observed what he though might be illegal or smuggling activities in progess as the S.S. Nigaristan was abreast the East Aden Protectorate up towards the border with Oman. He was so convinced of this that he used the Strick Line company radio circuits to report the occurrence his enciphered diplomatic channels not being available to him. He wrote a subsequent report shown below.

The Russians had “trawlers” quartering all of the worlds oceans during the Cold War. Some trawled for fish and some had arrays of antennae to trawl the ether for radio signals. Their other activities are open to conjecture. Certainly some of them appeared off the coast of Oman and the former East Aden protectorate that became the Yemen. It does appear that SS Nagiristan came upon a couple of them on her trip in late 1965 when the British diplomat on board seems to have persuaded the captain of the “Nigaristan” to alter course to “check them out”.



The Russians also had some listening stations set up on Socotra and there is evidence to suggest that they monitored transmissions from Umm Al Guarriff 

The Russians also had their dedicated “elint” vessels of which many were the size of small trawlers. At least twenty nine different antennae can be counted on this vessel.

The activities continued on into 1966 as a report on the DLF (Dhofar Liberation Front)  states