September 24, 2020

Drug-busting sailors set for heroes’ welcome in Plymouth


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Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 1.08.23 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 1.08.38 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 1.08.49 PMBy Tristan Nichols From Plymouth Herald,

Sailors on the drug-busting warship HMS Argyll are set to return home to a heroes’ welcome on Thursday.

The arrival of the Type 23 frigate into Devonport Naval Base will mark one of the most successful deployments of any Royal Navy vessel in recent times.

In a six-month period serving in the Caribbean and North Atlantic, the frigate seized 1,800kgs of cocaine with an estimated wholesale value of £77million.

HMS Argyll’s deployment included four separate successful drugs busts and a high speed dash to give humanitarian aid to hurricane hit Bermuda.

The drugs seizures included a stop-and-search of a yacht; a high-octane night time chase; and a precision sniper-shoot of a speeding drug running boat’s engines.

HMS Argyll’s Captain, Commander Paul Hammond, said: “We are most happy to return to the UK and our families, but at the same time we look back with great pride at what we have achieved.

“Argyll has done everything asked of her and more during this deployment; we have conducted hurricane disaster relief, taken a huge quantity of drugs out of circulation and we have represented the UK throughout the North Atlantic and Caribbean regions.”

HMS Argyll has travelled more than 25,000 nautical miles during her deployment visiting 16 countries across seven time zones.

She has spent 183 days away and experienced all types of weather, from calm seas to the aftermath of a hurricane.

Following her departure in June, HMS Argyll’s initial task was one of reassurance as she travelled between the UK Overseas Territories in the North Atlantic and Caribbean.

Visits focussed on engagement and discussion of humanitarian and disaster relief operations and all of the territories from the largest – Bermuda – to the smallest – Montserrat – gave the ship and her crew a very warm welcome.

HMS Argyll’s most high-profile defence engagement visit was to Baltimore in the US for the 200th anniversary of the American National Anthem.

An international flotilla was assembled including German, Turkish, Norwegian, Canadian and US ships.

HMS Argyll hosted 11,000 members of the public.

After these celebrations HMS Argyll sailed south to Belize, Mexico and the Cayman Islands.

On sailing from Grand Cayman the ship received a request from the Bermudan government to help the island recover from Hurricane Gonzalo’s destructive 100mph winds.

The crew provided a range of assistance to the UK territory including aerial reconnaissance, engineering support, specialist teams for working at height and a surge of manpower to clear vital transport links.

In Cartagena, Colombia HMS Argyll hosted an official reception onboard for HRH the Prince of Wales and HRH the Duchess of Cornwall as part of their tour.

The ship also went to the Dominican Republic and to Havana, Cuba to build on the UK’s mutual relationship.

Despite the intensely busy patrol, HMS Argyll’s crew also took time to raise £6,000 the Royal Navy and Royal Marine Charity, the Devon and Cornwall Air ambulance and Bristol Royal Children’s hospital.

Sailors also donated to a collection for the construction of a school in Nepal.

The ship also marked the centenary of the outbreak of World War One with remembrance events at many port visits.

The crew’s football and rugby teams played 11 games throughout the Caribbean region and took part in basketball, golf and white water rafting.

HMS Argyll’s Atlantic patrol duties were handed over to HMS Severn and the ship will now begin well-earned leave and maintenance in Devonport prior to UK tasking next year.

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