Drug-busting Royal Navy warship tackles fourth smuggling ship

Portsmouth divers called after merchant vessel anchor spears torpedo

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THIS is the moment Royal Navy sailors dealt another blow to the drugs trade in the North Atlantic.

HMS Argyll has carried out another drugs bust, where two Royal Marine snipers shot out the engines of a boat carrying 215 kilos of cocaine.

CN Ops 23 Nov 14''On 23 Nov 14, as part of her APT(N) deployment, HMS ARGYLL interdicted a fast boat suspected of trafficking narcotics.''Pictured: HMS ARGYLL's sea boat and Lynx Mk 8 search for disgarded bails of narcotics.

CN Ops 23 Nov 14''On 23 Nov 14, as part of her APT(N) deployment, HMS ARGYLL interdicted a fast boat suspected of trafficking narcotics.''Pictured: HMS ARGYLL's sea boat and Lynx Mk 8 search for disgarded bails of narcotics.

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.

In total the ship’s company of Argyll have recovered nearly 1,900 kilos – worth around £77m – of cocaine across four different seizures at sea.

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas said: ‘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 Royal Navy has had a string of recent counter-narcotic successes – Argyll’s sister ship Portsmouth-based HMS Lancaster seized 1,200 kilos of cocaine and 1,500 of cannabis during her deployment in 2013.

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.’

This counter narcotics work carried out by HMS Argyll is part of Operation Martillo, a 15-nation collaborative effort to deny trans-national criminal organisations air and maritime access to regions of Central America, and focuses on putting a stop to the illegal movement of drugs from South America to the rest of the world.

HMS Argyll has deployed to the North Atlantic and Caribbean region to provide reassurance and, if required, humanitarian aid and disaster relief support to the UK’s British Overseas Territories and other islands during the hurricane season.

HMS Argyll also conducts counter narcotics patrols in conjunction with the UK’s National Crime Agency, the US Coast Guard and other partner nations to enhance regional security and deter illicit activity.