Cocaine with a street value of more than £300m has been seized in a dramatic sea chase involving sailors from a Royal Navy support ship.
The Ministry of Defence has revealed that 1.25 tonnes of the Class A drug were impounded in an operation in the Caribbean.
The drugs have a UK wholesale value of over £60 million, but the street value would have been over £300 million.
The crew of Royal Fleet Auxiliary Naval Support Ship RFA Wave Knight, along with a US Coast Guard patrol aircraft, forced a speedboat suspected of drug smuggling to stop in international waters south of the Dominican Republic during the night of January 22.
The Coast Guard helicopter fired warning shots in an attempt to get the boat to stop but when the suspected smugglers were observed throwing the bales of drugs overboard the decision was made to use disabling fire, the MoD said.
This allowed Wave Knight to launch its own small boat with a US Coast Guard team to board and question the suspects.
A second boat from Wave Knight recovered 45 bales of cocaine which had been thrown overboard into the water nearby.
Dramatic video released by the MoD shows the operation taking place.
Four people were detained on board, and both the cocaine and detainees were handed over to the US authorities off the coast of Puerto Rico.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: “Once again the Royal Navy have played a key role in the international mission to tackle the drugs trade from the Caribbean.
“The crew of RFA Wave Knight should be proud of their role in seizing such a massive amount of drugs, made more impressive as it is their second successful operation within a month.”