Royal Navy warship HMS Dragon has returned to its home base after a “record-breaking” deployment during which the crew seized drugs with an estimated value of £200 million.
The Type 45 destroyer carried out eight successful raids during its seven-month deployment to the Middle East during which it seized 18,400kg of narcotics – more drugs than seized by police in the UK in a year.
After HMS Dragon arrived at Portsmouth Naval Base, its commanding officer Commander Michael Carter-Quinn praised the crew.
He said: “It really is great to be home. It’s been a long and exceptionally busy seven months.
“Thankfully there is plenty to show for the effort, not least the outcome of a record-breaking eight drug busts – 18 tonnes of drugs that will never reach our streets, and £200 million that will never reach the hands of terrorists and criminals.”
Describing the morale of the crew, he added jokingly: “I would say they are all buzzing but possibly not the right thing to say after seizing six tonnes of hashish.”
A Navy spokeswoman said: “It was during dedicated periods drugs busting with global counter-terrorism organisation Combined Task Force 150 that Dragon made her astounding eight seizures, amounting to more drugs captured in seven months than the entire police force of the UK in one year.
“The achievement is the greatest drugs haul by a Royal Naval unit in recorded history.”
To mark the raids, the ship featured silhouette symbols of eight boats on the side of the bridge.
Engineering Technician Nick Bannerman, 27, from Milton Keynes, was welcomed home by girlfriend Michaela Dicker, 27.
He said: “I’m just relieved to be back, I’m ready to go home now.”
Ms Dicker said: “I can’t speak, it’s overwhelming to have him back.”
The eight drugs raids started with the seizure of 3,000kg of hashish in the Arabian Sea in November, followed by 500kg of heroin, hashish and crystal meth in December.
Later in December, two more hashish seizures were made in the Arabian Sea, with 49kg of heroin seized in February.
In March, 2,000kg of hashish was seized in the Indian Ocean, while 224kg of heroin was seized in the Arabian Sea and 2,540kg of hashish in the final raid.
HMS Dragon will undergo routine maintenance before being deployed later this year in support of aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.