This extraordinary quantity of drugs has been stopped from reaching the streets by the swift actions of the Royal Navy, working closely with the US Coastguard. This is HMS Lancaster’s second counter narcotics patrol in the Caribbean to tackle the drugs trade and the entire ship’s company should be proud of this remarkable achievement.

Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond MP

The empty drugs boat was subsequently sunk by Royal Navy gunfire to prevent its use in future smuggling operations.

Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond MP said: “This extraordinary quantity of drugs has been stopped from reaching the streets by the swift actions of the Royal Navy, working closely with the US Coastguard. This is HMS Lancaster’s second counter narcotics patrol in the Caribbean to tackle the drugs trade and the entire ship’s company should be proud of this remarkable achievement.

"This is another example of the skills and capability that mean our Armed Forces are held in high regard by our partners around the world.”

HMS Lancaster is on patrol with a team from the US Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment as part of a multi-national effort to combat drug smuggling in the Caribbean.

HMS Lancaster’s Commanding Officer, Commander Steve Moorhouse, said:  “This is a great result not only for Lancaster but also everyone involved in the multi-national effort to stem the flow of drugs in the region.

"My ship’s company can be incredibly proud of what they have achieved, their professionalism and teamwork continue to shine, and our close relationship with our partner nations and law enforcement agencies is proving to be hugely successful.”

This is the ship’s third success in as many weeks and follows on from the seizure of a shipment of marijuana with a street value of up to £700,000 and the stopping of another craft with a significant amount of cocaine and heroine on board.

Able Seaman James Duffy, the coxswain of one of Lancaster’s sea boats, and who is from the city of Lancaster, said: “We have all trained really hard to get where we are and have a fantastic relationship with the US coast guard guys. It is an amazing feeling to get such a great bust and stop millions of pounds worth of cocaine hitting the streets.”

The Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigate is on her second counter narcotics patrol of the Caribbean region and will continue to combat the illicit smuggling of drugs until the end of the year.

These patrols are part of Operation Martillo, a 15-nation collaborative effort to deny transnational criminal organisations air and maritime access to the littoral regions of Central America; and focus on putting a stop to the illegal movement of drugs from South America into the Caribbean and onwards to the UK. Over the past year the US Coast Guard has seized 20,500kg of cocaine and 8,500lbs of marijuana during 22 law enforcement interceptions.

Counter narcotic operations with the USA and other partner nations is one of a range of tasks HMS Lancaster is conducting across the Caribbean in support of British interests. Others include providing reassurance and security for British Overseas Territories and the provision of humanitarian aid and disaster relief during the core hurricane season.

The Royal Navy contributes to counter narcotics across the globe whether it be cannabis and cocaine in the Caribbean or intercepting insurgent heroin traffic using its Sea King Air Surveillance helicopters in Afghanistan.

To listen to Commander Steve Moohouse's interview with BBC Radio Lancashire, please click here.

Image by LA(PHOT) Jay Allen