Royal Navy: Portsmouth ship HMS Lancaster seizes £2.5m of cannabis days after helping civilians evacuate Sudan
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Crew from the Portsmouth-based frigate HMS Lancaster bagged £2.5m worth of hashish on Tuesday – days after helping with the evacuation from Sudan. Fighting has broken out in the capital Khartoum and across the country between the army and military group Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
Numerous ceasefires have failed to stop the violence. Sailors carried out the bust after assisting with the government’s operation to get civilians out of the country via Port Sudan.
HMS Lancaster’s Royal Marines detachment, from 42 Commando near Plymouth, boarded a dhow and discovered large number of packages on the deck. Sailors carried out an extensive search which went into the night and found nearly 200 packages – each containing 11kg of cannabis resin (hashish).
The haul totalled 3.22 tonnes and has now been destroyed. HMS Lancaster’s Executive Warrant Officer Gaz Head said: ‘From first discovering the ship, then on through the night until the early hours, Lancaster ship’s company worked tirelessly and with little rest to ensure that three tonnes and £2.5m worth of cannabis resin will not reach the streets
‘Everyone involved, be it the Royal Marine or Royal Navy boarding team, the boat crews, the drugs embarkation team, operators in the operations room, engineers in the ship control centre and on the bridge, or simply those picking up the slack elsewhere in the ship and keeping the internal mechanism moving, should be justly proud of this significant seizure and the effort given that made it possible.’
The drug bust is the first by the ship since it arrived in the Middle East last autumn, replacing her sister ship HMS Montrose and operating as part of the international Combined Task Force (CTF) 150.
Commanding Officer Commander Tom Johnson said the day after the raid: ‘I am exceptionally proud of my team for their efforts last night which resulted in over three tonnes of narcotics being seized. This success is shared with our international partners in CTF 150 who provided essential support to the operation.’
CTF 150 is commanded by Captain James Byron. He said: ‘This operation shows the flexibility and professionalism of HMS Lancaster brilliantly; one day supporting the evacuation from Sudan, and the next countering illicit drugs smuggling.’