Border Force launches new cutter to patrol coast from Portsmouth

GLEAMING The border force's new cutter, HMC Protector. Picture: Tristan Newkey-Burden
GLEAMING The border force's new cutter, HMC Protector. Picture: Tristan Newkey-Burden
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Border Force crew have a new cutter in their fleet for patrolling the coastline – and it will be based in Portsmouth.

HMC Protector is the latest addition to the Border Force’s fleet which patrols UK waters to intercept drug shipments and other trafficking by sea.

LAUNCH DAY Home secretary Theresa May meets crew

LAUNCH DAY Home secretary Theresa May meets crew

The vessel, which was launched in London earlier this week, will call Portsmouth its permanent home.

Having successfully completed sea trials in the autumn, she will now join sister cutters Seeker, Searcher, Vigilante, and Valiant.

Those vessels also berth in Portsmouth Harbour.

Sir Charles Montgomery, the director general of the Border Force, said: ‘I am very proud to welcome HMC Protector and our Border Force crew.

‘Border Force’s priority is the security of the border and our fleet of cutters play a key role in intercepting and deterring shipments of drugs and other prohibited goods, as well as people criminal gangs attempt to traffic into the UK.’

The cutters operate 24 hours a day, responding to trafficking intelligence and patrolling high-risk areas.

In the last year, officers boarded more than 2,000 vessels arriving in UK waters, from small fishing boats to commercial ships. Two of the largest seizures in recent years were in nearby waters.

In 2011, £10m worth of cannabis was found on a yacht off the Isle of Wight.

The year before that, £50m of cocaine also found there, disguised as lobster pots.

Home secretary Theresa May, who was at the launch event, said: ‘We are an island and seafaring nation and HM cutters have a proud history of protecting our shores.

‘Today’s vessels include sophisticated surveillance and navigation equipment to locate potential threats at sea.

‘But it is the professionalism and commitment of the crew, who patrol all year round and in all weathers, that is our strongest weapon against organised traffickers.’

HMC Protector replaces HMC Sentinel, which was decommissioned in 2013.