Navy blasts £33m cocaine speedboat

Ben Mitchell,Press Association
Sunday 23 October 2011 05:23

A Royal Navy frigate has seized cocaine with a UK wholesale value of £33 million from a speedboat off the coast of South America.

In a night-time operation, HMS Iron Duke, working with the US Coastguard, boarded the drug traffickers' vessel and seized the cocaine weighing three-quarters of a tonne.

The seizure was made while the Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigate was carrying out patrols in the Caribbean as part of a multi-national task force to counter drug smuggling in the region.

Iron Duke first spotted the speedboat, known as a "go-fast" which is a vessel specially built by the traffickers, and scrambled its Lynx helicopter to investigate.

The frigate then launched its seaboats after the helicopter crew observed cocaine bales being thrown overboard from the speedboat.

Along with US Coastguard personnel, the Iron Duke crew members carried out an armed boarding of the vessel and detained the drug traffickers.

As well as seizing the drugs, the speedboat was destroyed as it presented a hazard to local shipping.

Iron Duke's executive officer, Lieutenant Commander Alasdair Peppe said: "This is a good start to HMS Iron Duke's North Atlantic deployment.

"After only a week on patrol the ship has made a significant seizure of cocaine.

"I am very proud of the whole of Iron Duke's ship's company, all of whom have played a part in this success."

The frigate made a similar drugs bust last year whilst on operations in the region, seizing drugs with an estimated UK street value of £45 million.

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