This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Royal Navy contributes to counter-narcotics operations across the globe, whether it be cannabis and cocaine in the eastern Pacific and Caribbean, or intercepting insurgent heroin traffic using its Sea King airborne surveillance and control helicopters in Afghanistan.
On this deployment, the Type 23 frigate worked alongside her US, Canadian and Colombian allies to help deter potential drug traffickers from using the sea to transport their goods.
She had to use her full range of capabilities during the operations, including stopping and searching suspect craft, searching for vessels using her powerful radar, and launching her helicopter to search and, if necessary, stop suspect vessels.
One of HMS Argyll’s key assets is her Lynx helicopter, known as ‘Eagle One’, which flew for over 37 hours during the counter-narcotics operations.
During this time Eagle One’s crew detected and deterred illegal activity and found numerous suspicious vessels strongly suspected of smuggling or supporting other vessels actively engaged in smuggling.
Flight Commander Lieutenant Ben Jewson said:
Eastern Pacific operations such as this have not taken place for a while. The first thing we had to get to grips with was understanding counter-narcotics operations on the west side of the Panama Canal.
This work is part 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 put a stop to the illegal movement of drugs from South America to the western world.
HMS Argyll’s Commanding Officer, Commander Tim Neild, said:
I am extremely proud of the hard work put in by my crew and the US Coast Guard team during this period of high-tempo counter-narcotics operations.
We have provided a most effective counter-narcotics capability during this period, and, when you consider the other roles we have undertaken during our 7-month deployment, Argyll has really showcased the capability and flexibility of a Royal Navy warship.
HMS Argyll will return to her Devonport home next month.