September 24, 2021 – The bust began when the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship, Wave Knight, launched her Wildcat helicopter — callsign Knightrider — on a routine patrol.
Just minutes later Knightrider’s crew reported back a suspicious small craft with three people on board and large objects on deck, as it was transiting through international waters near South America. Having been ordered to stop by Knightrider, the suspected drug-runners began throwing bales overboard.
As the ship closed in, she launched her smaller sea boat, loaded with the US Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET), to intercept the vessel and detain the drug runners. Both the drugs and the crew will be handed over to the US authorities.
Weighed and tested, the drugs proved to be 216kg of cocaine with an estimated UK street value of more than £17 million.
The vessel was then destroyed to prevent it from becoming a danger to other seafarers.
“I am extremely proud of the professionalism and dedication of all on-board RFA Wave Knight — that includes 213 Flight, Royal Marines, Royal Navy and the US Coast Guard LEDET — which led to the seizure of these illegal drugs. They’ve contributed to the reassurance and protection of UK Overseas Territories, as well as keeping these narcotics off the streets of the UK.” — Captain Simon Herbert RFA, Commanding Officer of RFA Wave Knight
RFA Wave Knight is deployed as part of the UK’s Caribbean Task Group, working alongside the patrol ship HMS Medway, which is the UK’s permanent presence in the region.
The ship’s main role is to provide support to British Overseas Territories in the event of a natural disaster, with peak hurricane season running from August to November.
This year RFA Wave Knight has already delivered over 75 tonnes of aid to St Vincent following the volcanic eruption in April.
The task group also works alongside regional navies, authorities and police forces, especially the US Coast Guard, to tackle criminal activity across the Caribbean.
Last year Royal Navy ships and helicopters in the Caribbean, alongside the US authorities, seized cocaine worth nearly £400 million.
Whether protecting the UK’s shores, providing hurricane and disaster relief for the people of the Caribbean or working with our US partners to prevent international drug traffickers plying their deadly trade, the UK Armed Forces work tirelessly in the Caribbean.