DESTROYER HMS Dragon will sail back home into Portsmouth this morning after her record-breaking deployment in the Middle East.
The warship’s company made history on the voyage after carrying out eight successful raids on drug smugglers.
The interventions saw them capture £200m worth of narcotics – a haul weighing in at more than 18 tonnes.
She left Portsmouth on September 17 and has spent seven months deployed on Operation Kipion in the Arabian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.
She is expected to return between 10.45am and 11am.
Commander Michael Carter-Quinn, commanding officer of HMS Dragon, said: It’s been a long and exceptionally busy seven months.
‘Thankfully there is plenty to show for the effort, not least the outcome of a record-breaking eight drug busts – 18 tonnes of drugs that will never reach our streets, and £200 million that will never reach the hands of terrorists and criminals.’
Early into her deployment, HMS Dragon escorted RFA Lyme Bay through the Suez Canal and gave air protection to the joint Omani-UK exercise Saif Sareea, alongside landing platform dock ship HMS Albion.
The destroyer then went on to support further joint exercises with the Indian, United Arab Emirates, United States and Pakistani navies.
It was during a dedicated period spent with global counter-terrorism organisation Combined Task Force 150 that Dragon made her eight seizures, which raked in more drugs in seven months than the UK’s police force has in a year.
It goes down as the greatest drugs haul by a Royal Naval unit in recorded history.
Cdr Carter-Quinn said: ‘It’s not just the dragons who made it happen and can be proud.
‘Our families and friends have been with us all the way, always full of support despite having the harder job of balancing kids, the home and jobs.
‘We are one big Dragon family and they are as much the heroes as the women and men on board. We can’t wait to celebrate the successes with them.’
HMS Dragon’s next deployment later this year will see her support the Portsmouth-based aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.
The £3.1bn behemoth is currently undergoing maintenance work to her hull at Rosyth Dockyard, in Scotland.
But later today, Dragon will be welcomed back by Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Jerry Kyd – who job is to command all operational elements of the naval service.
‘HMS Dragon’s impressive contribution to UK/US operations, regional engagement and record narcotics seizures highlights the high regard with which Dragon is held amongst allies and friends,’ he said.
‘None of this would have been possible without the steadfast support of her families and friends back home, some of whom have had the opportunity to embark over the last 24 hours.
‘I am immensely proud of all she has achieved and would like to congratulate her ship’s company as they return to Portsmouth today.’
Before setting off on her next deployment, HMS Dragon and her company will enjoy a period of leave, leading into a period of planned maintenance.
A video above shows the moment HMS Dragon made one of its famous drugs busts, earlier this year.