Royal Navy’s Caribbean-based patrol ship HMS Medway is seen sinking a smugglers’ boat after 400kg of cocaine valued at around £24 million were seized from the vessel
A smugglers’ boat carrying cocaine with a street value of around £24 million is seen being blown up following a tense chase with a naval warship in the Caribbean.
More than 400kg of drugs were seized from the vessel, which is believed to have come from South America, and three crew members were detained before it was destroyed.
The Royal Navy’s Caribbean-based patrol ship HMS Medway had spotted the boat near the Dominican Republic alongside a US Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment and an accompanying aircraft.
Following an overnight operation to secure the contraband – estimated by the National Crime Agency to be worth around £24 million had it reached Britain’s streets – the vessel was sunk by Medway’s gunnery team.
The ship, which is thought to have travelled along a common smuggling route, was boarded by officers after a pursuit and found to contain several large packages of drugs, the Royal Navy said.
“To secure an interdiction on our first day dedicated to this type of operation in this period has been tremendous,” said Commander Chris Hollingworth, commanding officer of Medway.
“Everyone involved demonstrated their professionalism during a challenging pursuit.
“It might be the first, but we’re going to make sure that it won’t be the last, and I speak on behalf of everyone here in saying this has galvanised our determination to succeed.”
The destruction of the vessel, which is normal for this type of operation, ensures it is no longer used for illegal activity while also providing gunnery training.
“Together with our partners on board Medway and up in the skies above us, we’re able to smash a hole in the supply chain and disrupt the movement of these harmful drugs before they have the chance to harm people at home and abroad,” Cdr Hollingworth said.
“I’m exceptionally proud of the collective effort of my ship’s company and our colleagues from the US Coast Guard for their proactive attitude and total commitment to the task.”
Last month, HMS Medway was on hand to help the Cayman Islands after Hurricane Ian brushed past the British Overseas Territory.
The ship had only just finished providing aid to islanders in the Turks and Caicos as they dealt with the effects of Hurricane Fiona, in company with tanker RFA Tideforce, when it then focused on the damage caused by Ian.
Crisis Response Troop from 24 Commando engineers landed alongside Medway’s sailors in the Cayman Island’s capital George Town, which is more than 600 miles west of Turks and Caicos.
“We were monitoring weather patterns as they came through and saw Ian was developing,” said Commanding Officer of Medway, Commander Chris Hollingworth.
“Once we’d finished with Fiona we conducted a quick logistics stop to take on fuel and prepositioned ourselves to come and offer assistance.
“We’ve had some really good communications from shore. It’s clear the islands are incredibly well prepared and all we’re doing is offering a bit of extra assistance should it be required.
“I’ve got a really competent team on board. And what we have is, essentially, it’s like a big Yellow Pages: a group of carpenters, electricians, plumbers and everybody else on standby so, anybody you need.”
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