Royal Navy’s HMS Dragon makes a record eighth drugs bust on her way home to Portsmouth
A ROYAL Navy warship from Portsmouth, who is single-handedly crippling the drug smuggling trade in the Middle East, has scored a record eighth haul.
HMS Dragon seized an enormous 2,540kg haul of hash stashed by smugglers in a fishing vessel in the Arabian Sea yesterday.
The mega bust came just two days after the £1bn destroyer clinched the record for the highest number of successful riads and the total weight of drugs seized by a Royal Navy ship in the Middle East.
Since leaving Portsmouth in September Dragon has racked up 17,786kg of hash, 455kg of heroin, and 9kg of crystal meth – totalling more than £145m.
Defence secretary Gavin Williamson said was full of praise for the Portsmouth ship and her 280-strong crwew.
He said: ‘The work of HMS Dragon and her crew in combating this evil trade over the last few weeks has been outstanding and they fully deserve their place in the record books.
‘While we celebrate this success, we recognise there still more criminals out there who are spreading harmful drugs around the world and funding terrorist organisations.’
Flying a routine dawn mission, the crew of the ship’s Wildcat helicopter spotted a suspicious-looking boat from the air. Dragon, who was beginning her journey back to the UK, immediately altered course to intercept the vessel.
As dawn broke, HMS Dragon emerged from the darkness to swoop on the fishing dhow and launch her two fast sea boats packed with sailors and Royal Marines from Plymouth’s 42 Commando.
Boarding teams found the first haul of illegal drugs underneath the boat’s fishing nets. The crew continued the search to include some of the boat’s more difficult-to-reach areas.
It fell to the smallest member of HMS Dragon’s boarding team, Engineering Technician Thomas Jones Leah, to crawl into the space beneath the boat’s fuel tanks to conduct the search.
He fought through slime and dirt in the confined space to remove false hatches which concealed the bagged narcotics.
ET Jones Leah said: ‘It was dark down there and pretty disgusting, full of water and slimy. There was very little space beneath the fuel tanks. I was given the task to remove the bags, each weighing about 20kgs
‘To find and remove these drugs is a great achievement for us and makes the hard work worth it.’
The boarding team worked tirelessly in temperatures of up to 38 degrees to remove the bags of hash, ready to be transported back to HMS Dragon and destroyed.
Lieutenant Laurie Williams, Dragon’s boarding officer, said: ‘On getting alongside and talking to the dhow’s crew our suspicions were raised and we found enough evidence to warrant a boarding. The Royal Marine team embarked and quickly secured the vessel.’