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Old 03-23-2020, 08:59 AM
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Thumbs up Britannia's Royal Navy Makes Significant Drug Bust


Date: 02-04-2020

I guess you would call this a British Coast Guard units in the Indian Ocean water:

HMS Defender returned to HM Naval Base Portsmouth this morning after a hugely successful 222 days away from home.

Her crew of 270 and embarked helicopter from 815 Naval Air Squadron safely accompanied 38 British-flagged tankers and cargo ships through troubled waters and made two significant drug seizures.

There would normally be hundreds of family and friends on the return jetty waiting for the sailors to disembark, but to help preserve good health the homecoming was cancelled.

However, for the final leg of the destroyer’s journey home, 39 relatives were able to join as planned in Gibraltar, to experience of life aboard with loved ones. Fleet Commander, Vice-Admiral Jerry Kyd, embarked at Spithead early on Friday to meet the crew and thank for them for their service since departing on 12 August before they made the final transit into harbour from their overnight anchor in the Solent.

HMS Defender’s Commanding Officer, Commander Richard Hewitt, said: “While disappointing not to see our families on the jetty as we return to Portsmouth, we understand the situation and we are extremely grateful for all the support our families have provided while we have been deployed. We could not do it without them and are looking forward to spending some quality time with them now we have returned.”

Instead of a six-month patrol of the Far East as originally planned, the destroyer was diverted to the Middle East last summer to join other Royal Navy vessels accompanying British merchant shipping into and out of the Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz.

She sailed the narrow waters at the gateway to the Gulf 28 times, accompanying 1.6m tonnes of cargo on those 38 ships – cargo vital to UK trade and economy.

“This was an ever-changing, dynamic, operational deployment for Defender,” added Commander Hewitt.

“The successes we’ve achieved are testament to our training and the mental resilience of the crew which allowed us to reinforce the Royal Navy’s commitment to maintain a global maritime presence, 365 days a year.”

HMS Defender also supported international security missions: Operation Sentinel, the global response to the threat to shipping in the Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and Combined Task Force 150 which attempts to curb terrorist and smuggling activities in the Indian Ocean.

Her crew scored the biggest crystal meth seizure on record in the region, 131kg, followed in January by 2.5 tonnes of cannabis.

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The Royal Marines boarding team from Plymouth-based 42 Commando and 209 Flight’s Wildcat, normally based at RNAS Yeovilton, were instrumental in both busts.

In quieter times, the destroyer worked with the Indian Navy, initially in the English Channel for annual Anglo-Indian exercise Konkan at the start of her deployment, then later with a visit to their base in Goa.

HMS Defender spent 184 days in the Gulf and her 270-strong ship’s company had just a fortnight’s break during their 222 days away, eating 18 tonnes of meat, 26 tonnes of potatoes and 30,000 eggs.

Before long, a suspicious dhow was identified and HMS Defender sent a boarding team of Royal Marine Commandos, commanded by RM Lieutenant Ben Clink, to investigate.

Lt Clink said: “A strong performance from my team once again proved the versatility of the Royal Marines at sea.”

Once the Royal Marines had secured the dhow, a Royal Navy team followed and searched the vessel for illicit cargo.

The boarding party discovered 2,500kg of hashish in 119 bags hidden throughout the dhow.

Royal Navy Boarding Officer Lieutenant Stuart Campbell said: “This is yet another example of the Royal Navy putting their first-class operational training to use, interrupting drugs traffickers active in the region.”

Defender’s haul of 131kg of crystal meth in December 2019 was the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) largest ever. It took CMF’s total crystal meth seizures for 2019 to 257kg, compared to only 9kg in 2018.

Captain Sean Stewart, Royal New Zealand Navy, Deputy Commander of CTF 150, said: “Once again, HMS Defender has done some terrific work and proven to be a high value asset to CTF 150. Following two other successful busts by FS Courbet in 2020, we continue to make an impact on terrorist and criminal organisations in the region, accomplishing CTF 150’s mission of restricting their freedom of manouevre in the maritime domain.”

CTF 150 is one of three task forces operating under CMF, a multinational naval partnership that protects 3.2 million square miles of international waters. The 33 nations that comprise CMF share intelligence, assets and capabilities.

The UK has a long-standing maritime security presence in the Gulf and Indian Ocean. Since 1980, ships of both the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary have maintained a presence there 365 days a year.

Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose is stationed in the Gulf as part of the Royal Navy’s forward presence, ensuring peace, stability, and the free flow of trade through some of the world’s most vital shipping lanes.

“At the end of the day we’ve been doing what we were sent here to do – and the atmosphere onboard rose based on our successes,” said Leading Seaman Rico Macaspac, an operations room supervisor.

Leading Engineering Technician Danny Holmes added: “Doing something like a drug bust was a tangible result which gave the whole ship’s company a real – and measurable – sense of achievement.

“It really highlights the important work that we’ve been doing.”

To sustain morale youngsters Daisy and Poppy Hamlyn – daughters of a former crewmate – set up Daisypop Parcels, collecting gifts and raising money to send presents to the ship’s company, especially over the Christmas period, which was appreciated by all on board.

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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