Royal Navy warship seizes £140m of cocaine as helicopter and Royal Marines swoop on drug-runners' speed boat in Caribbean

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  • HMS Dauntless spotted the fast-running drug boat with her advanced radar 
  • The interception captured more than 1.2 tonnes of cocaine worth £140million 

A Royal Navy destroyer has busted a major drug smuggling operation, seizing 1.2 tonnes of cocaine worth an estimated £140m during an operation in the Caribbean. 

HMS Dauntless, a Type-45 destroyer was patrolling an area in the Caribbean Sea along with the US Coast Guard when they intercepted a ‘go-fast’ drugs-smuggling boat. 

The Portsmouth-based warship used its Wildcat helicopter to deploy a squad of Royal Marines and a US Coastguard team. 

Dauntless was later involved in tracking a suspicious aircraft flying from Venezuela, which led to a further 550kg seizure. 

In June, HMS Lancaster seized more than £10m worth of drugs while patrolling the Indian Ocean. 

Last year, HMS Montrose seized more than 16 tonnes of drugs while patrolling the Gulf and Indian Ocean, including £15.5m-worth of crystal methamphetamine. 

Montrose had even seized advanced missiles destined for Iran during its Gulf patrol.  

Royal Marines commandos seized 1.23 tonnes of cocaine with an estimated street value of £140 million following an operation in the Caribbean sea

Royal Marines commandos seized 1.23 tonnes of cocaine with an estimated street value of £140 million following an operation in the Caribbean sea

Electronic warfare officers onboard HMS Dauntless, pictured, spotted a drugs-running 'go-fast' at high speed crossing the Caribbean Sea

Electronic warfare officers onboard HMS Dauntless, pictured, spotted a drugs-running ‘go-fast’ at high speed crossing the Caribbean Sea

A Royal Navy spokesman said: ‘This was a notable first for a Type 45 destroyer, with Dauntless using her state-of-the-art sensors – normally used to scan the skies for hostile incoming jets and missiles – to track the flight of the suspect aircraft for authorities on the ground to intercept.’ 

One of the officers involved in the interception, who cannot be named for operational reasons, said: ‘It shows that not only are we able to disrupt the flow of drugs at sea but have the ability to sense and track air traffic, suspected of transporting drugs.

‘This also highlights the importance of taking an interagency approach to counter narcotics, as our US counterparts were able to seize the aircraft upon arrival at its destination.’

As well as patrolling the region to intercept drugs, HMS Dauntless is also tasked with remaining on station in the Caribbean during the June to November hurricane season, where the vessel can provide assistance in the event of a major storm.  

Commanding Officer, Commander Benjamin Dorrington said: ‘The successful counter illicit trafficking operation demonstrates the value of working with partners such as the US Coast Guard and the professionalism of the ship’s company of HMS Dauntless.’

Dauntless launched two of her own fast boats carrying Royal Marines Commandos along with a US Coastguard team to intercept the drugs boat. The teams were covered by a Wild Cat helicopter from 815 Naval Air Squadron

Dauntless launched two of her own fast boats carrying Royal Marines Commandos along with a US Coastguard team to intercept the drugs boat. The teams were covered by a Wild Cat helicopter from 815 Naval Air Squadron

A Royal Marine sniper kept overwatch during the dramatic interception

A Royal Marine sniper kept overwatch during the dramatic interception 

The US Coastguard and Royal Marine teams surrounded the drugs boat and forced it to stop

The US Coastguard and Royal Marine teams surrounded the drugs boat and forced it to stop

Electronic warfare officers on board Dauntless were the first to spot the suspect boat using the destroyer’s advanced radar system. 

The destroyer rapidly advanced on the drugs boat, launching its helicopter and boarding party when within range. 

Commander Dorrington added: ‘I am immensely proud of what we have achieved, with her advanced technology and highly-skilled team, HMS Dauntless is making significant strides in disrupting transnational criminal organisations and protecting the lives of countless individuals affected by the drugs trade.’

In October 2022, HMS Medway sank a drugs boat after recovering cocaine worth £24 million near the Dominican Republic.  




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