HMS Richmond’s eye in the sky tracks drug smugglers

The boarding teams on the water
The boarding teams on the water
The Emsworth Slipper Sailing Club. Picture: Malcolm Wells

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HEROIN with a potential street value of £98m has been seized by sailors on board a Portsmouth-based warship.

HMS Richmond deployed her state-of-the-art unmanned aircraft – called ScanEagle – to fly undetected above six smuggler boats.

Information was then passed back to commanders who sent in boarding teams from Australia’s HMAS Newcastle and New Zealand’s HMNZS Te Kaha.

Commander Mark Anderson, commanding officer of HMS Richmond, said his 200 sailors and Royal Marines played a vital role.

He said: ‘Richmond has played her part in disrupting the narcotics supply routes via Africa into Europe and the UK, working with France, Australia, New Zealand and Tanzanian authorities.

‘It’s a unique thing the Royal Navy can do, deploying thousands of miles from home, working side by side with regional allies and having a direct impact on the supply of narcotics into the UK.’

It comes as the ship is working in Combined Task Force 150.

The group is an international force carrying out counter-terrorism and drug-smuggling patrols.

Nearly a tonne of heroin was seized in the operation carried out against six boats off the east coast of Africa.

The navy said based on current wholesale value of the class A drug it was potentially worth £26.5m.

But cut several times it would be closer to £98m, the navy said.