CULDROSE MERLIN PLAYS SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN DRUGS BUST
The Royal Navy has carried out its second drugs bust in theMediterraneanin as many weeks with HMS St Albans seizing around 320 kg of cannabis.
Having left UK waters on a nine month deployment less that a fortnight ago the Type 23 frigate stopped the drug smugglers during a routine security patrol and prevented around £1 million worth of narcotics reaching European markets.
It is the second drugs bust carried out by a Royal Navy vessel in the area in the past two weeks, as HMS Richmond also recovered 1,015 kg of cannabis worth around £3 million.
While on patrol, HMS St Albans spotted a small boat acting suspiciously and so launched her Merlin helicopter, this spooked the small boat crew who then tossed several large packages into the water before speeding off into the dusk. The frigate then sent one of her sea boats to investigate the packages which later turned out to be approximately 320 kg of cannabis resin.St Albans’ Second in Command, Lieutenant Commander Jeff Gulliver, said:
“The Mediterranean is a well known smuggling route for drugs into Europe and the UK. The team have trained long and hard at home for tasks such as this. Having only just deployed from UK last Monday, it is great for them to prove themselves so soon. I’m proud of my sailors for reacting so quickly and helping to keep these drugs off the streets.”
Providing an eye in the sky was a Merlin Mk 2 helicopter from 829 Naval Air Squadron based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose inCornwall.
“This was the perfect demonstration of the versatility and capability of a Merlin and its crew,” said Lt Cdr Lauren Hulston, who is Flight Commander of the Merlin Flight. “With the ability to send live imagery back to the ship, the team was able to act quickly to disrupt this drug smuggling activity and recover a lot of the cannabis. We hope it’s the first of many on this nine month deployment.”
Captain Adrian Orchard OBE, CO RNAS Culdrose said, “Well done 829 Naval Air Squadron – another example of Culdrose based sailors making a huge difference around the globe. Our role in this drugs bust not only highlights the versatility of our high-tech helicopters, but the capability and expertise of our aircrew.
We currently have several units deployed around the world, some will make it back in time for Christmas, but many others will be spending the festive period on ships and shore bases, serving their Country away from their families and friends. Indeed, the 829 flight based onboard HMS St Albans has just started a 9 month deployment. What a cracking start they have had!”
St Albans is on a nine month deployment, protectingUKinterests’ worldwide and will return toUKshores next summer.