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HMS Grafton in Caribbean drugs drama

PUBLISHED: 18:38 06 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:36 03 March 2010

IPSWICH'S adopted warship HMS Grafton has been involved in a dramatic drugs bust in the Caribbean Sea in which 500lb of was seized.

The crew of the HMS Grafton carried out a covert midnight operation on the suspected drug smugglers after they were first spotted from the warship's Navy Lynx helicopter on Thursday, the Navy said.

IPSWICH'S adopted warship HMS Grafton has been involved in a dramatic drugs bust in the Caribbean Sea in which 500lb of was seized.

The crew of the HMS Grafton carried out a covert midnight operation on the suspected drug smugglers after they were first spotted from the warship's Navy Lynx helicopter on Thursday, the Navy said.

The suspected smugglers were spotted throwing bales over board as the battleship closed in and a Navy team later recovered 21 bales of the drug from the waters.

The seizure comes two months after the HMS Newcastle recovered 550lb of marijuana and £42 million worth of cocaine in two separate operations in the Caribbean.

In the latest success, the HMS Grafton, which is based in Portsmouth, had been patrolling the seas between St Vincent and Barbados.

The crew of the Lynx helicopter became suspicious when they spotted the speedboat travelling at high speed in the dead of night and with no navigational lights on.

They used the powerful down wash from the Lynx's rotor blades to disorientate the vessel while the Grafton moved in.

The speedboat tried to outrun it but was forced to give up when an engine blew.

Commander Richard Thomas, 35, commanding officer of the Type 23 frigate, said: "When we arrived on the scene we could see the smugglers on the boat desperately throwing bales over the side into the water.

"A team from my ship, augmented by US Coast Guard Law Enforcement personnel, boarded the boat and a number of people were detained."

He added: "Grafton has been on station in the Caribbean for three weeks now and we have been training for just this sort of operation.

"The detection and arrest went entirely to plan, a testament to preparation and effective teamwork.'"

The Grafton has taken over the counter-drugs operations in the Caribbean from the HMS Newcastle which has since return to port.

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