Practical Boat Owner: Royal Navy warship HMS Argyll has dealt a third blow to smugglers after seizing more than 850kg of cocaine in a high speed midnight chase across the Caribbean.
It is the third drugs bust for HMS Argyll in as many months with this latest haul having a wholesale value of £36million, in total she has now seized 1,600kg of cocaine with a combined value of more than £68million.
Secretary of state for Defence Michael Fallon said: ‘HMS Argyll has had phenomenal success in disrupting the drugs trade which continues to blight the UK. Her crew are doing outstanding and demanding work, and the British people will rightly be proud of, and grateful for, their professionalism and commitment. He added: ‘Thanks to them, drugs destined for our streets never reach our shores.’
HMS Argyll apprehended the suspect vessel after being alerted by a US customs aircraft, which directed the ship to intercept. The Plymouth-based frigate was pushed to maximum speed and quickly closed the 70 mile gap.
After a high speed chase, during which time the smugglers began to throw their illegal cargo overboard, the warship used high tech radar to guide her small patrol boats which surrounded the smugglers and forced them to surrender.
Lieutenant Matthew Turner, who was in charge of the Bridge at the time of the chase, said: ‘It was an intense couple of hours as we were trying to out-think and out-manoeuvre a small boat which can change direction in an instant.’
As part of her counter narcotics operations, and reflecting the commitment of the UK to work with partner nations, HMS Argyll carries a US Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET).
To conduct a board and search of a suspect vessel, members of the LEDET and the ship’s crew are launched together in the ship’s boats. In recent weeks HMS Argyll has provided assistance to Bermuda in the wake of Hurricane Gonzalo, conducted two further counter-narcotics seizure and hosted His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales in Colombia.