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Royal Navy hits drugs smugglers hard in double Caribbean bust

9 September 2023
A Royal Navy warship has seized more than a tonne of cocaine – worth more than £140m on the streets of Britain – following a successful operation against drug traffickers in the Caribbean Sea.

HMS Dauntless, a Portsmouth-based warship hunted down a drugs-running go-fast and seized 1,230kg of cocaine, deploying her Wildcat helicopter, Royal Marines and a US Coast Guard team to stop and search the smugglers’ boat.

In a second operation in the Caribbean Sea, the ship supported other US Law Enforcement Agencies in tracking a suspicious aircraft flying from Venezuela, and alerted ground forces who seized a further 550kg of cocaine.

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 HMS Dauntless’ officers (who cannot be named for operational reasons) coordinated the operation.

The officer 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.”

HMS Dauntless has been deployed to patrol the Caribbean Sea and intercept drugs smugglers and disrupt their illegal activities across the region, while also providing a reassuring presence to British Overseas Territories during hurricane season, which runs from June to November.

The ship’s 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.”

The first operation began when Dauntless’ advanced radar system alerted sailors to the presence of a suspect vessel.

Acting quickly, Dauntless closed on its position, launching its embarked helicopter.

The US Coast Guard team deployed when Dauntless moved in, with the helicopter providing cover overhead.

One of the ship’s team: “It was great to see how Dauntless has integrated with multinational partners. I am proud to be part of a successful team that tracked and identified the vessel.

“We see the effect of drugs and the effort it takes to combat it, so it is excellent to tackle the problem closer to the source.”

The deployment of HMS Dauntless underscores the UK’s commitment to working with international partners to tackle drug trafficking head-on and protect regional and global security.

As HMS Dauntless continues its counter narcotics operations in the Caribbean, it stands as a symbol of the UK’s dedication to safeguarding the region and combating all forms of illicit trafficking.

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.”

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