HMS Portland tackles illegal flow of drugs

Dorset Echo: ON PATROL: HMS Portland in action ON PATROL: HMS Portland in action

PORTLAND’S namesake warship has been working with coastguards in the Atlantic to tackle the illegal flow of drugs.

The Type 23 frigate HMS Portland left the UK last month for a seven-month mission in the South Atlantic carrying out maritime security operations including counter-narcotics and anti-piracy patrols.

It is part of an operation to support the Royal Navy’s presence in the region and to protect British interests.

The ship, which is closely linked with Weymouth and Portland, strengthened bonds with islanders in Cape Verde.

Following a brief stop in the port of Mindelo, HMS Portland went on a patrol around the archipelago of 10 volcanic islands with the Cape Verde Coast Guard cutter Guardião The ships were conducting operations on behalf of the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre (Narcotics), in Lisbon, with HMS Portland at 30 minutes notice to conduct boarding operations to prevent illegal drugs from entering Africa and Europe.

Throughout the operation HMS Portland carried out training with a boarding team supported by three US coastguard observers.

The training also included first aid and board and search drills with the teams from the three nations discussing procedures and sharing ideas.

During the patrol, teams from HMS Portland spent time onboard the Guardião conducting training in firefighting, damage control, seamanship and navigation.

The exercises and advice were geared at helping develop the skills of the Guardião’s crew.

HMS Portland’s Boarding Officer, Lieutenant Simon Fraser said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to work alongside our allies in the fight against the illegal drugs trade.

Both the US Coast Guard, Cape Verdean Coast Guard, Judicial Police and Maritime Police are highly experienced in these operations and we were all able to exchange ideas to ensure the continued success in preventing the flow of drugs into Africa and Europe.”

Speaking about the training the Royal Navy provided in firefighting and damage control, Chief Petty Officer Scott Allan, said: “The teams on the Guardião were incredibly keen to learn about the practices the Royal Navy uses. We were impressed with the enthusiasm they showed throughout the training.”

HMS Portland’s Operations Officer, Lieutenant Commander Richard Gray, added: “This patrol demonstrated the RN’s support of the international commitment to preventing the flow of illegal narcotics.

“HMS Portland enjoyed working with our allies from Cape Verde and the US and we are looking forward to working with them again later in the year.”

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