Royal Navy warship crew seizeÂ Â£75m worth of drugs in Middle East seizures
A PORTSMOUTH warship has made two massive drug busts within 48 hours, seizing Â£75mÂ worth of narcotics in the Middle East.
Portsmouth-based HMS Dragon intercepted two boats on the notorious drug smuggling route known as the Hash HighwayÂ with 10 tonnes of drugs on board.
They are the third and fourth hauls for the Type 45 destroyer in the space of a month, taking the total drugs seized to 13.3 tonnes during the first three months of the ship's deployment.
It marks the biggest seizure of illegal narcotics ever recorded in the history of the Combined Maritime Forces '“ the multi-national organisation in charge of policing that stretch of sea.
Sailors from HMS Dragon and Royal Marines were launched on fast boats to halt the two dhows - a type of vessel common to the Middle East - in two separate missions over a two-day period.
After boarding and painstakingly searching the boats, they removed hundreds of sacks of narcotics with a UK street value of more than Â£75 million.
Royal Navy Lieutenant Jonathan Bennett, who took part in both raids, said: "To achieve two major drugs busts in under 48 hours is a massive achievement for the team.
'˜Our Royal Navy and Royal Marines boarding teams worked long hours in very challenging seas to remove nearly 10,000kg of narcotics.
'˜During the second boarding, the sea deteriorated resulting in increasingly hazardous conditions for our searchers.
'˜We had to endure heavy seas, large amounts of ship movement and a dangerous working environment, all while removing over 300 heavy bags of narcotics and transporting them back to Dragon successfully.'
As weather conditions worsened, Dragon deployed her Wildcat helicopter to aid the boarding teams' work.
It allowed them to return the drugs back to ship quickly, with their work complete before midnight.
Lieutenant Elliot Titman, of Devon-based 42 Commando Royal Marines, said: "These recent operational successes represent a positive start to this deployment and are the result of the efforts of the whole ship together with support from our combined task force partners.
'˜This deployment is the culmination of a long specialist training programme and the team and I look forward to continuing to deliver on operations in the coming months."
HMS Dragon left for this deployment in September and will continue to be operational in the Gulf over the holiday period.
Defence secretary Gavin Williamson added: "Seizing four hauls of this magnitude is a remarkable achievement and represents a significant dent in the pockets of criminals who seek to put these drugs on to our streets.
'˜The global narcotics network is a scourge that we are absolutely committed to tackling, as part of our commitment to security in the Gulf and across the world.'