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.’
Leading Seaman Jason Granlund (left) is embraced by Stacey Hindon after HMS Dragon returns to Portsmouth Naval Base after a seven-month Gulf mission
Petty Officer Writer Dean Goodey with his daughter Helen, aged 15 months, reunite after the HMS Dragon returns to Portsmouth Naval Base
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.
Leading Hand Meghan Tuplin with her daughter Billie, aged 4, look joyful as they reunite after seven months at sea
Crew members embrace and look overjoyed on board HMS Dragon as their family members come into view on the shore
A crew member wipes away a tear on board HMS Dragon as the ship sails in and family members can be seen waving
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.
Engineering Technician Luke Astley poses for a selfie with his partner Tara Andersen
Royal Navy Type 45 Destroyer HMS Dragon returns to Portsmouth Naval Base after a seven-month Gulf mission
HMS Dragon is anchored alongside as she returns to Portsmouth Naval Base after a seven-month Gulf mission
Crew members onboard HMS Dragon wave to the waiting crowd as she returns to Portsmouth Naval Base
Crew members get ready to depart from the HMS Dragon which they have spent seven months on
Crew members onboard HMS Dragon wave to the waiting crowd
So close but yet so far! Crew member blows a kiss to the loved ones on the shore as the ship makes its way into moor
Max Leah, 8, waves towards HMS Dragon as she returns to Portsmouth Naval Base after a seven-month Gulf mission
A Royal Navy Helicopter flies by as HMS Dragon docked with maintenance workers dangling from the top of the 560ft Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth, Hampshire
Wildcat Flight Commander Mark Wookey is welcomed home by his children Jasmine, Austin and Connor at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset after spending 7 months in the Middle East
Jumping for joy: The children all rush in for a hug with their Dad Mark Wookey, Flight Commander as he departs the helicopter
Tears of joy: Flight Commander Mark Wookey looks close to tears at having his children Jasmine, Austin and Connor back in his arms
Michaela Dicker, 27, welcomes home ET Nick Bannerman, 27, from Milton Keynes as HMS Dragon returns to Portsmouth Naval Base after a seven-month Gulf mission
Eight Ship silhouettes on the side of the bridge of HMS Dragon denoting the ship’s 8 successful raids on drug smugglers
Chief Petty Officer Paul Constable greets daughters Daisy (left) and Lola at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset