Royal Navy warship HMS Richmond has spent the last two months conducting boarding operations off the Horn of Africa, disrupting the drug supply routes into Europe and the UK.
The Portsmouth based warship, which deployed to the region in April, has been working as part of the Combined Maritime Forces Combined Task Force 150 (CTF150), their mission is to promote maritime security in order to counter terrorist acts and related illegal activities, which terrorists use to fund or conceal their movements.
Since 29th April, CTF 150 have located and boarded 6 smuggling vessels, seizing 981Kg worth of narcotics, with an estimated U.S street value in excess of $625 million.
Commander Mark Anderson Royal Navy, the ship’s Commanding Officer, said:
“HMS RICHMOND has played her part in disrupting the narcotics supply routes via Africa into Europe and the UK, working with France, Australia, New Zealand and Tanzanian authorities.
It’s a unique thing the Royal Navy can do, deploying thousands of miles from home, working side by side with regional allies and having a direct impact on the supply of narcotics into the UK”.
Cooperating with the French Ship Var, which has the Command Staff embarked, Richmond has used her powerful surveillance equipment to identify potential drug smugglers for the group. This includes her unmanned aircraft known as Scan Eagle, which can loiter undetected above potential smugglers both day and night, monitoring activity and reporting back to the ship.
The ship also worked with key allies, such as HMAS Newcastle, HMNZ Te Kaha to conduct counter-narcotics operations, which stops the funding of terrorist organisations, with the aim of sharing maritime security knowledge and strengthening ties in the region.
HMS Richmond is equipped with a Lynx aircraft and a specialist Royal Marine team, capable of stopping drug smugglers in their tracks by a number of methods, should it be necessary.
All ships in the task force bring different capabilities. The French Ship Var has extensive command and control facilities, carries large quantities of fuel, and is able to refuel other ships, including Richmond, allowing the task force to stay at sea for long periods.