Keeping Britain’s streets safe at sea

The Royal Navy destroyer HMS Defender has stopped £3.3 million worth of drugs from entering Britain’s streets this Christmas.

Image of HMS Defender in the sea, with the front of the ship facing the camera
Image of HMS Defender in the sea, with the front of the ship facing the camera

HMS Defender has been deployed to the Middle East since August, devoting the bulk of her time to safeguarding merchant shipping entering and leaving the Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz.

This Christmas, she has been keeping Britain safe by stopping drugs from reaching our streets.

Sweeping the northern Arabic Sea for smugglers and traffickers, the ship’s Wildcat helicopter located a solo dhow that wasn’t flying a flag or showing any evidence that it was carrying out fishing.

An image of a Wildcat helicopter flying towards an unidentified dhow vessel with HMS Defender in the bottom of the shot
An image of a Wildcat helicopter flying towards an unidentified dhow vessel with HMS Defender in the bottom of the shot
(Top left) Wildcat helicopter (middle) unidentified dhow (bottom right) HMS Defender

This prompted the destroyer to investigate, sending Royal Marines across in sea boats to secure the dhow and its crew.

An image of Royal Marines approaching the dhow with the Wildcat helicopter flying overhead
An image of Royal Marines approaching the dhow with the Wildcat helicopter flying overhead
Royal Marines approaching the dlow with the Wildcat circling the area

Lieutenant Ben Clink was the officer in charge of the Royal Marines detachment aboard HMS Defender.

“After all the training and preparation, it was fantastic to have the opportunity to demonstrate our capability with a successful boarding. It’s the best Christmas present we could hope for.”

A day long search by the warship’s Royal Navy sailor boarding teams ended in success, with 11 mail-bag-sized sacks of crystal methamphetamines, known as crystal meth, discovered.

Proceeds from the sale of drugs like this is are known to fund organised crime and terrorism. Some of the sacks weighed up to 20 kilograms, with the total haul weighing in at 31 kilograms.

Together, the bags are worth an estimated £3.3 million had they made it to the streets of the UK.

HMS Defender crew on deck with the secured sacks of crystal meth
HMS Defender crew on deck with the secured sacks of crystal meth
HMS Defender crew on deck with the secured sacks of crystal meth

The destroyer’s Commanding Officer, Commander Richard Hewitt, described how proud he was of his crew’s efforts in keeping Britain safe:

“I am really proud that HMS Defender has been able to stop such a significant quantity of drugs from reaching the UK streets.

“It goes to show that even over the festive season, the Royal Navy is at sea 24/7 protecting the UK’s interests. This has been a real boost for the ship’s company as they face Christmas away from their loved ones.”

HMS Defender has recently joined an international task force dedicated to stopping terrorists smuggling arms, people or drugs in the Indian Ocean.

She is one of more than a dozen British warships, submarines and Royal Fleet Auxiliary support vessels on duty over the Christmas period. Earlier this year her sister, HMS Dragon, took part in a record eight drugs busts operating with Combined Task Force 150.

Frigate HMS Montrose also recently stopped more than £1 million worth of illegal narcotics from reaching Britain’s streets. She did this in a joint drugs bust with the French Navy whilst on patrol in the Gulf.

Read more about that here 👇.

Find out where else the UK Armed Forces are deployed here:

A map showing where the UK Armed Forces are currently deployed

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