Royal Navy Destroyer Interdicts Drugs at Sea - And Above It Too

Image courtesy Royal Navy

Published Sep 10, 2023 10:13 PM by The Maritime Executive

In a pair of recent actions, a Royal Navy air defense destroyer helped interdict both a smuggling boat and a smuggling aircraft in the Caribbean, the service reported Saturday. Both intercepts applied the vessel's high-end warfighting technology to the task of anti-drug interdiction - a valuable exercise for the crew and a public service for the region. 

In the first instance, HMS Dauntless' crew spotted a suspicious boat using the ship's advanced surface search radar system. The warship pursued the drug-running go-fast boat and deployed her helicopter to provide overwatch. A boat team of Royal Marines and U.S. Coast Guard servicemembers embarked on two RIB boats to chase down the smuggling craft, and they captured about 1,200 kilos of cocaine. 

Images courtesy Royal Navy

In the second operation, the ship supported U.S. law enforcement in tracking a suspicious aircraft flying from Venezuela. The crew alerted ground forces who seized a further 550 kilos of cocaine on the plane's arrival.

“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," said an officer involved in the operations (unnamed for security purposes). “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.”

HMS Dauntless is the second Type 45 destroyer built by BAE Systems for the Royal Navy. She has been in service since 2010, with the exception of a three-year period as a moored engineering training ship in 2016-2019. After a refit period to repair design flaws in her engine cooling systems, she resumed operational status in 2022.