Royal Navy support vessel RFA Argus returns home after seizing more than £400m of drugs in Caribbean

A ROYAL Navy support vessel is returning home triumphant after the ship’s company seized more than £400m of drugs in the Caribbean.

By David George
Friday, 18th December 2020, 1:39 pm
Updated Friday, 18th December 2020, 2:46 pm

RFA Argus is heading back to the UK after a long deployment to support the region’s British Overseas Territories during hurricane season and the Covid-19 pandemic, but also to carry out counter-narcotics operations.

Alongside patrol ship HMS Medway – the Royal Navy’s permanent forward presence in the Caribbean – Argus seized 5,373kg of cocaine and 28kg of amphetamines worth more than £400m, in eight separate drugs busts in the past three months.

Due to arrive in Falmouth this weekend, the vessel has been in Bermuda, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos, the Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands to prepare for potential aid missions, working alongside French, Dutch and US forces.

Around £30m worth of cocaine was seized from the final drug bust of the operation. Picture: LPhot Robert Oates

Read More

Read More
Royal Navy welcomes new warship into the fleet as they prepare to defend UK fish...

RFA Argus’ commanding officer, Captain Kevin Rimell, said: ‘This deployment has delivered unprecedented success in counter-narcotics operations.

‘This has been made possible by a team of highly professional and experienced personnel embarked in Argus, the culmination of which has been the support we have delivered to the people of Honduras in the aftermath of two hurricanes.’

In one final drugs bust before the journey home, an American patrol aircraft notified the control room of a nearby suspect vessel.

A Merlin helicopter from 845 Naval Air Squadron recovering to the flight deck of RFA Argus off the coast of Honduras. Picture: LPhot Robert Oates

The ship’s Wildcat helicopter and a combined Royal Marines and US Coast Guard (USCG) team were quickly dispatched and 375kg of cocaine was seized – worth £30m on UK streets.

The remarkable efforts of the ship’s company has reinforced the importance of being proactive internationally, says First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin.

He said: ‘I am extremely proud of what RFA Argus has achieved during her deployment.

‘Protecting our overseas territories is a key part of the Royal Navy’s role in defending the UK’s interests worldwide.

‘From countering drug smugglers to delivering humanitarian aid, Argus has proven just how versatile the Royal Navy is, and how valuable our continued forward presence remains.’

Argus’ versatile crew was made up of Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary sailors, an air group of helicopters and personnel from 845, 815 and 1700 Naval Air Squadrons, plus Royal Marines from 47 Commando and soldiers from 24 Commando Royal Engineers.

They now return home for Christmas as RFA Argus goes in for a refit.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

You can subscribe here for unlimited access to Portsmouth news online - as well as fewer adverts, access to our digital edition and mobile app.

Our trial offer starts at just £2 a month for the first two months.