A US Coast Guard Dolphin helicopter coming in to land on RFA Wave Knight [Picture: US Coast Guard]
RFA Wave Knight and the US Coast Guard worked together to seize cocaine with an estimated wholesale value of £8.5 million in what was Wave Knight’s second successful counter-narcotics operation in 3 weeks.
While on patrol in the Caribbean Sea on 11 February, the crew of Wave Knight detected a suspicious speedboat operating in the area.
Photo: The speedboat was destroyed once its crew and cargo had been seized
A US Coast Guard helicopter was quickly despatched from Wave Knight and, after arriving at the scene, the coast guard team saw 2 men throwing packages into the sea. Warning shots were fired, forcing the speedboat to a standstill.
Once on board the speedboat, the team recovered several packages totalling 170 kilogrammes that later tested positive for cocaine.
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."
This recent drugs haul and the continued Royal Navy presence in the Caribbean area sends a clear message to international crime organisations and potential smugglers that multinational law enforcement agencies are determined and committed in their efforts to disrupt this activity.
The seizure marks the successful conclusion to the first embarkation of an armed US Coast Guard Dolphin helicopter on 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 multinational 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."
This success follows closely on from Wave Knight’s seizure of an even larger 1,250-kilogram haul of cocaine last month south of the Dominican Republic.
The ship 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 and stands ready to provide hurricane and disaster relief and take part in counter-narcotics operations.