A navy support ship helped seize marijuana worth around £1 million from a boat in the Caribbean in the latest drugs bust involving British personnel.
Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) naval support ship Wave Knight chased the suspect vessel - the Miss Kameney - on Boxing Day, allowing US Coast Guard law enforcement officers to board it and find quarter of a tonne of marijuana hidden in sacks.
The crew of five from the boat were detained on RFA Wave Knight and delivered to US authorities in the Dominican Republic while a joint crew of US Coast Guard and RFA personnel took control of the Miss Kameney to transport her illegal cargo to shore.
The seizure was the second large-scale drugs bust for RFA Wave Knight during her year deployed in the region, where she has been working alongside Royal Navy frigate HMS Lancaster and international authorities to disrupt illegal activities in the Caribbean.
Praising the crew, defence secretary Philip Hammond said: "The operation, successfully conducted when most of us were enjoying a Christmas break, is testament to the hard work of our service personnel and the demanding tasks we ask them to carry out.
"I am proud of the work of RFA Wave Knight and the role her crew has played in stopping these drugs reaching the streets."
The Royal Navy's Fleet Commander, Vice Admiral Phil Jones, added: "This operation is another remarkable success for the ship's company.
"The skill and dedication shown by RFA Wave Knight and HMS Lancaster over the last year has hit the mark and demonstrates the Royal Navy's commitment to the international effort to combat the illicit sea trade in drugs which ultimately affects us all."
Efforts to disrupt illegal activities in the Caribbean are part of the UK's commitment to the region in support of the overseas territories, disaster relief and counter-narcotics operations.
RFA Wave Knight was involved in several drug bust operations during 2013, with three tonnes of drug disruptions previously attributed to her name, while HMS Lancaster, which has since returned to Portsmouth, seized more than 1.2 tonnes of marijuana and 400 kilograms of cocaine.
Captain Duncan Lamb, commanding officer of RFA Wave Knight, said: "The entire ship's company - Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Royal Navy and US Law Enforcement Team - as well as HQ and prosecuting staff ashore in mainland USA are delighted with this result.
"It has been a truly international team effort and I acknowledge the fact that a number of shore personnel have been recalled off leave to provide the necessary support. This operation is a notable disruption to the regional drug trade."
This latest success was in support of Operation Martillo - a 15-nation joint effort focusing on putting a stop to the illegal movement of drugs from South America into the Caribbean and onwards to the UK.
The Royal Fleet Auxiliary is a civilian-manned fleet, owned by the MOD, which supports Royal Navy ships around the world, supplying warships with fuel, ammunition and supplies.
A fast fleet tanker, RFA Wave Knight has 77 RFA personnel and two Royal Navy sailors on board, as well as an 11-strong US Law Enforcement Team engaged in counter-narcotics work in the Caribbean.