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HMS Iron Duke scuppers drug-running suspects

hackle

Lantern Swinger
Moderator
from MOD news release

26/07/2008 22:00

Ministry Of Defence (National)

(MOD) HMS Iron Duke scuppers drug-running suspects

Royal Marines in a helicopter from HMS Iron Duke opened fire to stop a fleeing speedboat strongly suspected by international law enforcement agencies of being involved in Caribbean drug smuggling.

Royal Marines in a helicopter from HMS Iron Duke opened fire to stop a fleeing speedboat strongly suspected by international law enforcement agencies of being involved in Caribbean drug smuggling.

The commando marksmen on board the Lynx aircraft at first fired warning shots after the 40 mph 'Go Fast' vessel ignored radio and visual warnings to halt. When it still continued to flee, the Royal Marines employed 'Non-Lethal Disabling Fire', aiming five rounds at the vessel's engine block and successfully disabling the engine and stopping the boat.

Iron Duke had been on maritime security patrol 110 miles north of the Venezuela-Colombia coast on the afternoon of Friday, July 18, when she became aware that the Go Fast was loitering in the area. At the time, the ship's Lynx was preparing to get airborne on a training flight and was diverted to investigate.

Despite the Go Fast's crew attempting to avoid detection by spreading a tarpaulin to camouflage the 30ft vessel, the Lynx located it after a 15-minute search. The boat was fired on as a last resort, the Royal Marines using high-power long range rifles to successfully disable it.

When Iron Duke arrived on the scene, the three crew members were taken on board and the Go Fast sunk on the authority of the US Coast Guard team on board the frigate. They found traces of cocaine on two of the three men. As they were Colombians they were eventually transferred to the Colombian authorities.

While no cocaine was found on board the vessel or in the sea, the US Coast Guard knows that it is common practice for drug smugglers to ditch their illicit cargoes in an attempt to avoid prosecution.

The incident, which spanned 48 hours, was the second anti-drugs success for the Portsmouth-based warship. Last month she seized 0.9 tonnes of cocaine from another Go Fast vessel. During these early stages of her Caribbean deployment, in between sustained periods of counter-drugs patrols, she has also stopped a vessel smuggling fuel, assisted a fishing vessel in danger of sinking and has tracked four tropical storms or hurricanes as well as conducting training with local authorities in disaster relief on the island of Montserrat.

The Commanding Officer of HMS Iron Duke, Commander Mark Newland, said today: "This first 30-day patrol of our Caribbean deployment has been an enormous success. My ship's company are elated at again disrupting the activities of suspected drug-runners."

"The skill and professionalism of my helicopter crew, and in particular the young Royal Marines who fired the rounds to stop the Go Fast is an indication of the talents that lie within the Naval Service."
 
A Navy helicopter opens fire on speeding unarmed drug smuggling launch in the Caribbean seas off Columbia, part of the ‘copter crew was the future King to the English throne, Prince Willie (Sub/Lt Wales)
It all sounds frightfully jolly and rather Boys Own. The Navy considers such headlines as excellent recruitment pr for its sailors, but perhaps Command should consider exactly what they are doing playing around in the Caribbean, The UK has no possessions or territories in the area, so can the UK afford to keep a large warship at sea waiting for a hurricane to strike or to sink the odd drug running boat.

The MOD’s statement is rather confusing,

1 What was the drug boat doing loitering? If it was full of cocaine it should have got to its destination rather smartly.
2 Why did it take 15mins for the helicopter to search for the drug boat? The command ship should have had it under radar surveillance.
3 The gunners were instructed to fire (non destructive?) rounds into the engine block, if bullets can destroy an engine cast iron crankcase they are not going to due the human body a lot of good. Firing at a 30foot speeding boat with 3 souls onboard from the doorway of an airborne helicopter is a bit chancy, a gust of wind or the driver moving the collective or cyclic in the wrong direction? Pusser could have serious egg on its face if anyone got killed.
4 Traces of cocaine found on two of the baddies does not prove much, if you tested the UK celebrities and sports persons what would the results be?
5 No drugs found on board or in the sea, if they had no substances on board why were they running away? Looks like pusser could do with some good lawyers here (firing on an unarmed boat with no trace of substances)
6 Why sink the boat? As they had to drop the men back onshore why not tow that back as well as evidence.
 

Goldensky

Midshipman
What capacity was S/Lt Wales operating in? 2nd Observer? Loader for the Marine Sniper? Flying ration divider? On re-reading the press release, I see that no mention of Wills onboard the Lynx, although the IHT says he was there as "lookout".
In response to huffnut, the UK does have interests and posessions in the area (Montserrat, BVI, Cayman Islands). Also the area is a genuine route for smuggling coke into Europe/US. Also:
1) Yes does beg the question: big fast boat full of drugs - guilty. Fast boat empty - must have ditched the contraband and therefore - guilty.
2) Didn't you see the press release? The boat was camoed with a tarp - very effective at sea, especially vs a Mk3 Lynx with only 8 eyes onboard.
3) Think that Marine Snipers are probably very good(!) and will only take the shot when they are sure that the risk to life is minimal. I haven't heard anything of them hitting people.
6) Why not? Good target practice. I bet the gunners had a field day. When it's authorised by the USCG, it's got to be OK! M3M - engage!
 
Richie said:
For "f........." sake give the guy a chance ...........

Seconded. I can almost hear the cries, "Crucify him! Crucify him! Everything wrong with the world we read about in the press is his fault!"
 

finknottle

Banned
I did hear while this incident was taking place he was in his cabin with the grocer planning the next banyan or was it cake and arse.
 
finknottle said:
I did hear while this incident was taking place he was in his cabin with the grocer planning the next banyan or was it cake and arse.

Never pass up an opportunity to kick a member of the Royal Family, eh Fink? Especially when he's a serviceman who, uniquely, can't defend himself on the same terms.
 

Goldensky

Midshipman
Richie wrote:
For "f........." sake give the guy a chance ...........

Seconded. I can almost hear the cries, "Crucify him! Crucify him! Everything wrong with the world we read about in the press is his fault!"
Humour OFF
Don't think that was what I was getting at at all! (and if not aimed at me then please be more specific) Out of all those onboard, he is probably the most useful extra pair of eyes to have in the Lynx, due to his previous aviation experience. The only thing I object to is MOD/Press referring to "Prince William's Ship/Lynx/Chinook" etc. as though he is the Captain/Aircraft Commander and single-handedly saving the world (not his fault).
Humour ON
Besides, I can't think of a more important job on those long caribbean patrols than looking after the flying rats. Bet a nice ice-cream is just the ticket after a long sortie!
 

finknottle

Banned
Naval_Gazer said:
finknottle said:
I did hear while this incident was taking place he was in his cabin with the grocer planning the next banyan or was it cake and arse.

Never pass up an opportunity to kick a member of the Royal Family, eh Fink? Especially when he's a serviceman who, uniquely, can't defend himself on the same terms.

On the contrary I thought it was a distinct possibility and it's all part of a young subs training. I expect it will be of great help to him in years to come when he has to organise piss ups and dinner parties at the biggest council house in Europe.
 
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