Navy

Wildcat Crew Arrives Home After Record-Breaking Drug Busts

The helicopter worked alongside HMS Dragon to seize narcotics in the Gulf and Indian Ocean.

A Wildcat helicopter that helped achieve a Royal Navy record haul of drugs from criminals has arrived home at RNAS Yeovilton.

The Wildcat, from 212 Flight 815 Naval Air Squadron, worked alongside HMS Dragon to seize narcotics in the Gulf and Indian Ocean.

In total, the ship and helicopter seized drugs with a street value of more than £145 million.

17,786kg of hash, 455kg of heroin and 9kg of crystal meth were all taken - the greatest total weight ever seized by a Royal Navy ship in the Middle East. 

The Type 45's deployment also recorded the highest number of successful drugs busts in the region - eight.

HMS Dragon (Picture: Royal Navy).
212 Flight's Wildcat worked alongside HMS Dragon in the Middle East (Picture: Royal Navy).

"It's been a really long time, but it's gone pretty quick because we've been that busy," said Chief Petty Officer Paul Constable from 212 Flight.

"It's been a long old slog - seven months," said pilot Lieutenant Scott Sunderland.

"Sometimes you get to the end of these things, you look back and go 'ah, it seems to have flown by', but it definitely hasn't!"

212 Flight played a key role in the ship's successful deployment - flying more than 200 hours on both operations and exercises, including Exercise Saif Sareea 3

Operationally, 212 Flight helped maintain maritime security by escorting shipping through the Bab al-Mandab Straits and Straits of Hormuz.

HMS Dragon Crew with Heroin Seized 220219 CREDIT Royal Navy
Crew on board HMS Dragon stand next to the Wildcat after a drug bust (Picture: Royal Navy).

For 43 days, the crew of 212 Flight also supported Combined Task Force 150 - a multi-national effort to disrupt terrorist and criminal activity across the Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman.

Lieutenant Commander Mark Wookey, Flight Commander, 212 Flight, said: "It was a big team effort by the ship.

"Obviously, with its radar it can only see so far.

"The Arabian Sea's a massive bit of ocean, so tactically on the ground there was a lot of planning, but the aircraft's technology and sensors are outstanding, so the aircraft found seven out of eight [of the drug busts.

"Even without the aircraft, the ship was tactically aware throughout the whole deployment."

Wildcat helicopter arrives at RNAS Yeovilton
It was a thumbs up from the cockpit as the Wildcat landed at Yeovilton.