Royal Navy patrol ship seizes half a billion pounds of drugs in Caribbean operations

Royal Navy patrol ship HMS Trent stopped £204m of cocaine reaching Britain’s streets after a night-time pursuit in the Caribbean Sea.

The Portsmouth-based ship has seized £511m of drugs across five operations in the Caribbean since deploying to the region in December.

HMS Trent was alerted to potential smugglers by a United States maritime patrol aircraft and used her powerful radars to track down a go-fast boat matching the reported course and speed.

The call “hands to boarding stations” was raised, the signal for the ship’s boarding team of sailors, Royal Marines and US Coast Guard Tactical Law Enforcement Team personnel to prepare to stop and search the vessel. 

As Trent closed in and darkness fell, the seaboats pounced and the chase was on. 

The go-fast was hopelessly weighed down by its illegal cargo and to evade capture, the crew began jettisoning bale after bale of cocaine.

As the go-fast escaped, accelerating to nearly 50mph, the sheer amount of cargo left behind became apparent.

“Every direction we looked in, there was cocaine bales, we knew this was a big haul, they must have ditched the entire cargo to escape,” said a Royal Marine, who cannot be named for operational reasons. 

The recovery operation went on through the night and eventually 2,548kg of cocaine was recovered back to Trent. 

“Considering the time lapse from the previous night’s chase, we were able to factor in the drift and calculate the area where the bales should be,” explained HMS Trent’s First Lieutenant, who cannot be named for operational reasons. 

“We calculated right, the look outs did a superb job picking out the bales against the wider ocean.”

Trent’s Commanding Officer, Commander Tim Langford, added: “The combined capabilities of the ship, the embarked US Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment and our 47 Commando coxswains have proven once again the utility of our ship in countering narcotics smuggling. 

“Working seamlessly to complete another covert take down, Trent and her crew continue to achieve unparalleled success in intercepting traffickers with over half a billion pounds worth of narcotics now disrupted.”  

HMS Trent is part of a multinational effort to stem the flow of drugs being smuggled to Europe and America.

Across five months of operations, the ship has seized 6,390kg of drugs worth £511m on Britain’s streets.