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Drug runners spread-eagled over the bow of their boat
The commandos drilled rounds from their .5 calibre sniper rifle into the go-fast’s three engines
Drug cargo recovered from the sea

Lynx helps HMS Argyll's latest drugs bust

Published: 08 Dec 2014

From Navy News

Royal Marines snipers shot out the engines of a speed boat to halt the progress of drug-runners after a high-speed chase across the Caribbean.

Cocaine worth £9m was subsequently recovered by sailors and a US Coastguard team aboard HMS Argyll as the Devonport-based frigate raised her illegal narcotics tally to more than £75m.

Sprea-eagled over the bow of their speed boat, this is the moment two suspected drug-runners are arrested – after Royal Marines snipers brought their high-speed dash across the Caribbean to an end.

And thus did HMS Argyll snare £9m of cocaine after the commandos shot out the engines on this ‘go-fast’ after it tried – and failed – to out run the frigate’s Lynx helicopter.

Six bales of drugs were hauled out of the sea – 215kg of cocaine in all, bringing the ship’s tally on her six-month Atlantic deployment to just shy of two tonnes of illegal narcotics worth more than £75m.

Lynx pilot Lt Jonny Hamlyn said with a top speed of 180kts, his helicopter didn’t have trouble keeping pace with the speed boat – but consummate skill was needed to bring the smugglers’ to a halt.

“I had to work hard to keep the helicopter in the right place for the sniper team and for us to successfully disable the go-fast was a great team effort,” he added.

The commandos drilled rounds from their .5 calibre sniper rifle into the go-fast’s three engines, bringing it to a halt – and allowing a US Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment to board and detain the two crew.

While the runners were waiting to be boarded – and despite a 4,500-tonne warship bearing down on them – they tried to throw their cargo into the Caribbean, although it was subsequently recovered.

So far this deployment the ship has bagged:

  • £36m of cocaine seized on a go-fast after a night-time chase off the Dominican Republic
  • £10m of cocaine from a British-registered yacht near Bermuda
  • £21m of cocaine in August seized from a speed boat.

“I must acknowledge the skill of my flight crew and Royal Marine snipers but this drugs bust was made possible by the work of the entire ship’s company,” said Cdr Paul Hammond, Argyll’s Commanding Officer.

“We have had a series of drugs busts and they have all been different – they have ranged from night-time chases to disabling engines with sniper fire.

“But they have all shown the effect and versatility that can be delivered by a Royal Navy warship.”

His ship is in the final weeks of a six-month North Atlantic/Caribbean deployment, most recently paying an official visit to Havana where she hosted British Ambassador to Cuba Tim Cole, local military leaders and more than 2,000 members of the public.

Argyll is due home in her native Devonport in time for Christmas.


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