Eight Middle East win for HMS Dragon 180319 CREDIT MOD Royal Navy

War On Drugs: HMS Dragon Makes Eighth Bust In Middle East

Eight Middle East win for HMS Dragon 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).

Royal Navy warship HMS Dragon has made its eighth drugs bust in the Middle East.

The crew of the Type 45 destroyer seized 2,540 kg of hash from a fishing vessel while in the Arabian Sea.

The sale of these drugs is a known source of funding for terrorist organisations and criminal networks.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "The work of HMS Dragon and her crew in combating this evil trade over the last few weeks has been outstanding and they fully deserve their place in the record books."

HMS Dragon eight drug bust in the Middle East 180319 CREDIT MOD Royal Navy
This is the eight successful drug bust in the Middle East by HMS Dragon (Picture: MOD/Royal Navy).

It is the eight drug bust in the Middle East in the past few weeks.

It comes only days after HMS Dragon broke the record for the highest number of successful busts and the total weight of drugs seized by a Royal Navy ship in the Middle East.

The drugs were found on board of a suspicious fishing vessel (Picture: MOD/Royal Navy).
The drugs were found on board of a suspicious fishing vessel (Picture: MOD/Royal Navy).

Flying a routine dawn mission, the crew of the ship’s Wildcat helicopter spotted a suspicious-looking boat from the air.

At that time, HMS Dragon was beginning her journey back to the UK, but the crew immediately altered course to intercept the vessel.

Two fast sea boats packed with sailors and Royal Marines from 42 Commando were deployed and approached the fishing boat. 

The first bags of hash had been hidden beneath fishing nets and the boat’s fuel tanks.

The crew continued the search to include some of the boat’s more difficult-to-reach areas.

Fishing vessel hiding hash 180319 CREDIT MOD Royal Navy
The vessel was approached by members of the crew of HMS Dragon and underwent a thorough search (Picture: MOD/Royal Navy).

One of the smallest members of the boarding team, Engineering Technician Thomas Jones Leah, crawled into the space beneath the boat’s fuel tanks to conduct the search.

There, he removed false hatches which concealed the bagged narcotics.

"It was dark down there and pretty disgusting, full of water and slimy. There was very little space beneath the fuel tanks," explains ET Jones Leach.

He was given the task to remove the bags, each weighing about 20 kg.

"To find and remove these drugs is a great achievement for us and makes the hard work worth it."

Fast boats deployed from HMS Dragon 180319 CREDIT MOD Royal Navy
Two fast sea boats were deployed from HMS Dragon to reach the vessel (Picture: MOD/Royal Navy).

Working at a temperature of up to 38 degrees Celsius, the boarding team was able to remove all the bags of hash, transport them back to the Type 45 warship and destroy them.

Lieutenant Laurie Williams, HMS Dragon’s boarding officer, says:

"On getting alongside and talking to the dhow’s crew our suspicions were raised and we found enough evidence to warrant a boarding. The Royal Marine team embarked and quickly secured the vessel."

Fishing vessel seen from HMS Dragon 180319 CREDIT MOD Royal Navy.jpg
(Picture: MOD/Royal Navy).

During her time in the Middle East, HMS Dragon has worked in support of the Combined Task Force 150, a multi-national effort to disrupt criminals at sea.

Since deploying to the Middle East in September last year, HMS Dragon has now racked up a record haul of drugs from criminals they have hunted down across the open seas.

The destroyer warship seized a total of 17,786 kg of hash, 455 kg of heroin, and 9 kg of crystal meth.

The street value for those drugs totals more than £145m.