The Royal Fleet Auxiliary Naval Support Ship RFA Wave Knight has seized cocaine with an estimated wholesale value of £8.5 million in her second successful counter narcotics operation within three weeks.
While on patrol in the Caribbean Sea on the 11th of February the crew of Wave Knight detected a suspect speedboat operating in the area.
A US Coast Guard helicopter was quickly despatched from Wave Knight in pursuit of the vessel.
The aircraft arrived on scene and established that a two man crew on-board were jettisoning packages into the sea: warning shots were fired, forcing the speedboat to a standstill.
A US Coast Guard boarding team from RFA Wave Knight deployed in the ship’s fast rescue craft.
During the boarding, the team recovered several packages totalling 170 kilograms that later tested positive for cocaine.
The two-man crew were detained on board Wave Knight prior to transfer to mainland USA.
Mark Francois, Minister of State for the Armed Forces said: “I am delighted that the men and women of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary have once again provided vital assistance to the international counter narcotics mission in the Caribbean
“I’d like to thank them for their hard work throughout their deployment which has already led to millions of pounds worth of illegal drugs being taken off our streets.”
The haul of 170kg off the coast of Jamaica and the continued Royal Navy presence in the area sends a clear message to international crime syndicates and potential smugglers, that multi-national law enforcement agencies are determined and committed in their effort to disrupt this activity.
The seizure marks the successful conclusion to the first embarkation of an armed US Coast Guard Dolphin helicopter to a non-US military platform.
Captain Duncan Lamb, Commanding Officer of RFA Wave Knight said: “RFA Wave Knight’s latest cocaine seizure rounds off a very successful patrol and underlines the effectiveness of multi-national counter narcotics operations in the Caribbean.
“The ship, US Coast Guard law enforcement detachment and an armed US Coast Guard helicopter working together present a formidable obstacle to the smugglers.”
The success follows closely on from Wave Knight’s seizure of an even larger 1,250kg haul of cocaine last month south of the Dominican Republic.
The ship is deployed in support of Operation Martillo, a 15-nation collaborative effort to deny transnational criminal organisations air and maritime access to the coastal regions of Central America and to disrupt the illegal movement of drugs from South America into the Caribbean and onwards to the UK.
Wave Knight has been deployed to the Caribbean since January 2013 as part of the UK’s commitment to the region in support of the Overseas Territories, hurricane and disaster relief and counter narcotic operations.
Until late last year she operated alongside HMS Lancaster with both ships enjoying success against the drugs trade.
|RFA WAVE KNIGHT SPECIFICATIONS|
|Speed||18 knots (33 km/h)|
|Complement|| 80 Royal Fleet Auxiliary personnel with provision for 22
Royal Navy personnel for helicopter and weapons systems operations
|Range||10.000 nautical miles (20.000 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h)|
|Status||In active service|
Press Release, February 25, 2014, 2014; Image: Royal Navy