• Toby Irwin

Royal Navy and Combined Task Force 150

The Royal Navy continues to maintain a significant global presence, despite cuts in the last decade. Among the duties carried out by the Navy is the patrolling of international waters for the illegal drug trade. HMS Dragon, the fourth ship of its class, has been spearheading the multi-national operation: Combined Task Force 150 (CTF150).

The illegal drug trade, believed to be a source of revenue for terrorist organisations in Africa and the Middle East, is a staple duty for the Navy. As recently as the 4th of March 2019, 2000kg of hash was seized in the Type 45 Destroyer's 6th bust in the last three months.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson commented:

"These significant seizures stop cash flow to terrorists, hurt criminal gangs who fund them and hinder the supply of harmful drugs to streets around the world, including Britain."

The operation included Royal Marines from 42 Commando as well as the resident Wildcat helicopter, which spotted the fishing vessels carrying the illegal substances. HMS Dragon tracked the vessel overnight before dispatching two fast sea boats to intercept and board.

Royal Navy sailors destroyed the narcotics and have since returned to patrolling the Gulf and Indian Ocean. Such operations serve as testimony to Britain's global role in countering terrorism, narcotics and smuggling. It further demonstrates that, contrary to popular opinion, a strong navy is needed not purely for war-time scenarios.

Source: https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/news/2019/march/04/190304-dragon-sixth-drugs-bust

At the time of writing, Toby Irwin is a second year student at the University of St Andrews. He is studying Modern History and International Relations. Areas that interest him the most are UK defence strategy and foreign policy.