Royal Navy Helps USCG With Stepped-Up Counternarcotics Campaign

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Two Royal Navy vessels helped the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy in seizing about six tonnes of cocaine over the past two weeks. The USCG cutter Harriet Lane delivered the combined haul – along with about 5,800 pounds of marijuana – to a pier in Port Everglades on Thursday. The cocaine is worth approximately $200 million.

The drugs were intercepted in 12 separate actions by two Coast Guard vessels, three U.S. Navy vessels and two Royal Navy vessels in the Eastern Pacific and the Caribbean between August 27 and September 8. In all cases – including the interdictions carried out by British vessels – an embarked USCG law enforcement team handled the boarding operations. 

The destroyer USS Pinckney had the best haul out of the group, bringing in about 5,800 pounds of cocaine. The Royal Navy patrol vessel HMS Medway seized 1,400 pounds of cocaine in two intercepts, and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s support ship RFA Argus brought in about 780 pounds of cocaine in one interdiction. USCGC Harriet Lane led the group by tonnage, seizing about 3,900 pounds of cocaine and an additional 2,500 pounds of marijuana. 

The crew of the cutter Harriet Lane prepare 12,000 pounds of cocaine for offloading in Port Everglades (USCG)

“[That] this large amount of drugs was seized in just a short 13-day span shows just how serious the issue is,” said Capt. Dorothy Hernaez, commanding officer of the Harriet Lane. “I am very proud of the efforts by not only the Harriet Lane crew, but also all the other Coast Guard, Navy, and British Royal Navy assets involved in the interdictions. These crews overcame significant challenges related to COVID-19 to remain both operational and effective, in order to keep these drugs off our streets.”  

RFA Argus and HMS Medway are now set to begin counternarcotics operations with the Royal Netherlands Navy’s HNLMS Groningen in the Caribbean. Medway and Groningen will both serve as “lilypad” refueling bases for Argus‘ helicopter aircrews. Groningen lost her own helicopter in a tragic crash near Aruba in July, but now she will help Argus‘ squadron to fly further and extend their time on security patrols. 

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