Royal Navy warship HMS Dragon has sailed into the record books after her seventh drugs bust in the Middle East, bringing her total deployment haul to £145m…

The Portsmouth-based Type 45 destroyer now holds the record both for the number of successful busts and the total weight of drugs seized by a Royal Navy ship in the Middle East. She completed her seventh bust by swooping on a group of drug smugglers carrying 224kg of heroin.

Dragon was beginning her transit home to the UK when the crew spotted a suspicious-looking fishing vessel while passing through the Arabian Sea for the final time. From the ship’s Wildcat helicopter, a sniper kept a close eye on the suspect craft as two fast sea boats launched in darkness towards the vessel and boarded it. After a brief search the heroin worth £56m was found.

It marks the seventh major drugs bust that Dragon and her crew have delivered in a matter of months – and a major disruption to the funding of terrorist networks and criminal activity. Since deploying to the Middle East in September, HMS Dragon has racked up a record haul of drugs from criminals they have hunted down across the open seas – 15,246kg of hash, 455kg of heroin, and 9kg of crystal meth.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “The work of HMS Dragon and her crew in combating this evil trade over the last few weeks has been outstanding and they fully deserve their place in the record books. While we celebrate this success, we recognise there still more criminals out there who are spreading harmful drugs around the world and funding terrorist organisations.”

Working in temperatures in excess of 35 degrees Celsius, HMS Dragon’s determined crew found the drugs hidden beneath a fuel tank on the small fishing boat.

Engineering Technician Thomas Jones Leah, one of HMS Dragon’s boarding team, said: “I was searching the engine space when I noticed a sack underneath one of the fuel tanks. We removed the sack and exposed more sacks, all containing small packages. It was hard work in a hot and small compartment but when it was confirmed it was heroin inside it felt like a job well done.”

The drugs seized by HMS Dragon, which have a combined UK street value of hundreds of millions of pounds, have all been destroyed. It deals a significant blow to the funding of terrorism and criminal activity known to profit from the sale of narcotics.

Commander Michael Carter-Quinn, the Commanding Officer of HMS Dragon, said: “Once again the Dragons have prevented a significant quantity of drugs reaching the streets of the UK. Their relentless determination reflects the Navy’s global commitment towards maritime security, making Britain a safer and more prosperous place.