Drug-Busting And Life-Saving Hms Richmond Returns Home From Nine-Month Deployment
Monday - December 14, 2015
Clocking up more than 40,000 miles, the Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigate travelled as far as the Indian Ocean on security patrols, where her highly-trained crew intercepted their first major drugs haul, £26.5 million of heroin, followed by a second of £3 million of cannabis in the Mediterranean, just weeks before returning home.
On both occasions the crew were aided by the eyes-in-the-sky of the ship’s unmanned aircraft ScanEagle, her Lynx helicopter and their Royal Marines boarding team.
The ship sailed to the Mediterranean to join the European Union-led operation against people smuggling where they were involved in multiple rescues, saving hundreds of lives and disrupting people trafficking by putting smuggling vessels beyond use.
Her Lynx helicopter was used to identify smugglers at range, directly leading to the detention of suspected people traffickers.
Richmond also paid goodwill visits across the Indian Ocean from Zanzibar in Tanzania, to Goa in India, and took part in numerous exercises with coalition and allied forces.
Her Commanding Officer, Commander Mark Anderson, said: “We have achieved a great deal during this deployment. I am extremely proud of every single member of my ship’s company; together we have saved lives, stopped traffickers, and disrupted illegal narcotic smuggling, helping to protect UK interests globally.”
In keeping with tradition the ship’s company lined the upper decks for the homecoming. A gap was left as a mark of respect for the family of crew member Engineering Technician Marine Engineer Charles Warrender who died whilst on shore leave in the Seychelles.
Commander Anderson said: “Our thoughts and sympathies remain with his family and friends; his presence on board is sorely missed.”
Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Penny Mordaunt said: “HMS Richmond has made a significant contribution to the security of the UK during her nine months deployed. Clearly demonstrating the flexibility inherent in Royal Navy warships, she has had an effect everywhere she has operated whether that be disrupting drug trafficking in the Indian Ocean or taking the fight to the people smugglers in the Mediterranean.
"The crew should be proud of what they have achieved and with particular thought to the family and friends of Charles Warrender, I wish them well for their homecoming and for Christmas.”
Throughout the nine-month deployment 206 Lynx Flight from 815 Naval Air Squadron in Yeovilton were embarked and directly contributed to the disruption of people and narcotics smuggling. This is the final deployment for their Lynx helicopter, which is due to be replaced by the new Wildcat in 2016.
The Flight Commander, Lieutenant Simon Yates, said: “HMS Richmond has been home to the Flight for the past eighteen months.
"Although the Lynx is shortly to go out of service, it has proven to be an exceptional asset throughout the deployment, and the new Wildcat replacement will take the capability on to another level in the future.”
Photo: Chief Petty Officer Harry O'Callaghan with his girlfriend Sarah Moxey.