Drug-busting warship tackles fourth smuggling boat

The Royal Navy’s drug busting warship HMS Argyll is heading home for Christmas having dealt another blow to the drugs trade in the North Atlantic.

The frigate has been deployed for six months and the final nine weeks of this have been spent on highly successful counter narcotics operations in the Caribbean. 

In total the crew have recovered nearly 1,900 kilos - or £77m – of cocaine in four highly charged seizures at sea.

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas said: “As the Defence Secretary has said previously, HMS Argyll has enjoyed phenomenal success in disrupting the drugs trade which blights the UK. 

"This latest haul of drugs, following in the wake of Argyll’s aid effort to Bermuda after Hurricane Gonzalo, rounds off a highly successful operational deployment to the region. 

"Having enhanced the Royal Navy’s authority in and around the Caribbean over the past six months, her Ship’s Company have really earned their leave, and can reflect on a job well done."

The latest drugs bust came last week and saw two Royal Marine snipers shoot out the engines of a boat carrying 215 kilos of cocaine. 

The snipers took aim from a Lynx helicopter after the boat refused to stop, successfully disabling all three engines in seconds and bringing the smugglers to a halt.

I had to work hard to keep the helicopter in the right place for the sniper team and for us to successfully disable the go-fast was a great team effort

Lieutenant Jonny Hamlyn RN, Pilot of the Lynx Helicopter

HMS Argyll’s Commanding Officer, Commander Paul Hammond, said: “I must acknowledge the skill of my flight crew and Royal Marine snipers but this drugs bust was made possible by the work of the entire ship’s company.

“We have had a series of drugs busts and they have all been different; they have ranged from night time chases to disabling engines with sniper fire, however, they have all shown the effect and versatility that can be delivered by a Royal Navy warship.”

The Royal Navy has a strong history of counter-narcotic successes – Argyll’s sister ship HMS Lancaster seized 1200 kilos of cocaine and 1500 of cannabis during her deployment in 2013. 

And Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship – a naval support vessel – played her part with 1500 kilos of cocaine and 127 kilos of marijuana during 2013-2014.

Over the last few weeks HMS Argyll has also provided assistance to Bermuda in the wake of Hurricane Gonzalo and hosted His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales at an evening reception in Colombia.

Photographs by LA(Phot) Stephen Johncock.