News story

RFA Wave Knight in multi-million-pound drug haul

Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ship Wave Knight has helped seize an estimated £6.5 million worth of drugs from traffickers in the Caribbean.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Suspect vessel Miss Tiffany is circled by Wave Knight's seaboat with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary supply ship seen in the background [Picture: Crown copyright]
Suspect vessel Miss Tiffany is circled by Wave Knight's seaboat

In a multi-agency operation involving UK and US assets, the fishing vessel Miss Tiffany was detected and one of Wave Knight’s boats was launched to investigate.

Soon after the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) ship’s arrival, and upon hailing the vessel, the Miss Tiffany’s crew members were seen jettisoning a number of suspect packages overboard.

With multiple bales now being jettisoned by the crew and an urgent need to stop the fishing vessel, the decision was taken to immediately launch a second boat from Wave Knight to help recover the weighted bales before they sank. A total of 55 bales were eventually recovered from the sea.

The suspect vessel Miss Tiffany
The suspect vessel Miss Tiffany [Picture: Crown copyright]

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said:

The work of the Royal Navy across the globe, and in particular in the Caribbean, on counter-narcotics operations is vital to protecting us here at home.

This drugs bust follows recent successful interdiction and deterrence operations by HMS Lancaster and HMS Argyll in the Caribbean which all contribute to ensuring illegal drugs do not reach our streets. I congratulate the ship’s company for their actions in this operation.

Subsequent onboard analysis strongly suggested these bales contained marijuana – a haul of some 1,300 kilograms with an estimated street value of around £6.4 million. The boarding operations, preservation of evidence and detention of 7 crew members will hopefully lead to a successful prosecution in court.

Captain Chris Clarke, Commanding Officer of RFA Wave Knight, said:

The entire ship’s company – RFA civilians, US Law Enforcement Team and Royal Navy personnel alike, as well as HQ and prosecuting staff ashore, are delighted with the result.

Once again the joint multi-agency approach to counter-narcotics operations has resulted in another successful take-down.

Although the crew of Wave Knight were unable to recover all the jettisoned bales before they sank, the total disruption was estimated as being in the region of 1,800 kilograms with an estimated street value of some £9 million. A custody crew was subsequently embarked on the Miss Tiffany which enabled the fishing vessel to be delivered to Jamaican authorities.

Bales of drugs
Bales of drugs from the suspect vessel Miss Tiffany [Picture: Crown copyright]

RFA Wave Knight, a 31,500-tonne fleet tanker, is currently deployed to the Caribbean in support of Atlantic Patrol Tasking (North) with HMS Lancaster. This is part of the UK’s year-round commitment to the region in support of overseas territories, disaster relief and counter-narcotics operations.

This latest success was in support of Operation Martillo – a 15-nation collaborative effort to deny transnational criminal organisations air and maritime access to the littoral regions of Central America and focus on putting a stop to the illegal movement of drugs from South America into the Caribbean and onwards to the UK.

Wave Knight has been involved in several drug bust operations this year and has over 1 tonne of drug disruptions attributed to her.

Published 12 September 2013