HMS Dragon: Record-Breaking Ship Returns To Portsmouth

HMS Dragon has returned to Portsmouth after a seven-month deployment.

The Type 45 destroyer left her homeport in September where she embarked on Operation Kipion in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean.

In the past four months the warship has carried out eight successful raids on drugs smugglers, capturing narcotics weighing over 18,000kg - the greatest drugs haul by a Royal Navy unit in recorded history with an estimated value of £200 million.

It was supported by a Wildcat helicopter team, which arrived back in the UK on Thursday.

The total amount of narcotics seized was 17,786 kg of hash, 455 kg of heroin, and 9 kg of crystal meth.

Families were reunited upon the return of HMS Dragon (Picture: MOD).
Families were reunited upon the return of HMS Dragon (Picture: MOD).

For the mother of Watchman Findlay Watson, it's a day she's been waiting for:

"It's quite hard, I do miss him an awful lot, so really looking forward to getting him home."

Crowds at HMS Dragon homecoming in Portsmouth

Commander Michael Carter Quinn, Commanding Officer of HMS Dragon said:

"It’s been a long and exceptionally busy seven months.

"Thankfully there is plenty to show for the effort, not least the outcome of a record-breaking eight drug busts – 18 tonnes of drugs that will never reach our streets, and £200 million that will never reach the hands of terrorists and criminals.

"I expected us to be successful, maybe not quite as successful as we were, but then once I saw just how hard-working, professionally excellent the team were - they made their own luck, they worked exceptionally hard at their successes.

"Once we had the first one or two, I did feel like we would get more because they deserved it, they really earned it by the quality of the work they were putting in. So I'm delighted for everybody, chuffed to bits."

The crowd in Portsmouth (Picture: MOD).
The crowd in Portsmouth (Picture: MOD).

At the beginning of the deployment, the destroyer escorted RFA Lyme Bay through the Suez Canal and gave air protection to the joint Omani-UK exercise, Saif Sareea, alongside Landing Platform Dock ship, HMS Albion.

She then went on to support further joint exercises with the Indian, United Arab Emirates, United States and Pakistani navies.

HMS Dragon eight drug bust in the Middle East 180319 CREDIT MOD Royal Navy
HMS Dragon seized thousands of kilograms of hash in its eight bust in the Middle East (Picture: MOD/Royal Navy).

The eight drug busts took place while alongside global counter-terrorism organisation Combined Task Force 150.

Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Jerry Kyd, responsible for commanding all operational elements of the Naval Service, spoke highly of HMS Dragon's work:

“HMS Dragon’s impressive contribution to UK and US operations, regional engagement and record narcotics seizures highlights the high regard with which Dragon is held amongst allies and friends.

HMS Dragon will now go into a planned maintenance period.

She is expected to deploy again later this year to support the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.