55 Field Surgical Team RAMC

Under developement

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.

1197G.                                                                     BRITISH CONSULATE GENERAL
23 October 1965.

1.On 19 October when on ss NIGARISTAN between Aden and Muscat I sent the following telegram en-clair and by way of the Strick Company’s agents in Aden to Don McCarthy :-

“Please pass following immediately to McCarthy in Pomec from Carden. Two Russian Trawlers seen are now (i.e. 0650 GMT) close inshore position 250° distance 18 miles from Raz Shurwain. Five local craft in vicinity. Nearest village Saibut but but local craft appeared to be making for a beach between Ras Iqab and Ras Rakwhat behind which are several buildings. Reference Admiralty Chart 3784

I sent this message enclair and by way of the Company’s agents since the only alternative was to wait until my arrival in Muscat and it seemed to me that delay might subsequently be a cause for regret

2. Further points which I did not mention in my telegram are:-

a. There are numbers of large fish in the area; sharks, whales, rays, porpoises; so that rollers may have been doing nothing but fish. But,

b. one of the points agreed when Nasser visited Moscow in August was that the USA are and the USSR would support the Omani liberation movement;

c. there appeared to be valleys running inland from the villages which would provide routes through the mountains for the transport of arms;

d.The Sultan, so I was told by Don McCarthy, recently expressed the view that the arms reaching the Dhofar rebels liberation movement were coming by sea and through the area concerned;

e.) the two trawlers made out to sea after the “NAGIRISTAN” had altered course in their direction at my request and so as to make identification certain; if innocent, why?

f) the trawlers were named “GONWED” and “AMBARK” or something like that;

g) between 1030 and 1120 GMT on the same day 19th of October I saw a third Russian trawler between Ras Fartak and the village of Kheisat; according to the radar she was a mile and a half offshore; a valley ran inland through the mountains behind Khaisat; we did not alter course in her direction and she kept inshore though following us slowly until we were beyond Ras Fartak.

3. My, albeit inexperienced, conclusion is that if the trawlers were fishing they could easily have been landing arms too. If it is agreed that this is correct, can anything be done to block this possible supply route? The villages and the wadis are, I think, in the East Aden Protectorate,

4. I am sending a copy of this letter to McCarthy in Aden, we are in the Arabian department and to bow for Paul in Dubai

(D.C. Carden)


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