A Royal Navy frigate has been strengthening relations with the Cape Verde Islands by carrying out counter narcotics training drills.
As part of a continuing effort by Her Majesty’s Government to support Cape Verde against the trade of illicit narcotics from South America to West Africa, Plymouth based HMS Argyll, spent a week at sea conducting counter narcotics training. A Cape Verde Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) was embarked plus members of the US Coastguard and Navy.
Whilst not conducting operations the opportunity was taken to conduct training drills where the LEDET and the Argyll’s own boarding team worked side by side taking advantage of the expertise provided by the American specialists. Training included boarding and search drills, medical training and also raising maritime domain awareness.
Commander Tim Neild, the Commanding Officer of HMS Argyll, said: “The Royal Navy operates with international partners in many parts of the globe and this work with the Cape Verde and US Coast guard is one such example. If we are able to stem the flow of drugs reaching Africa and Europe in any way then the importance of this work can not be understated.”
The exercise which was appropriately named Exercise Creole Eagle in reference to the participants, Creole referring to the local population of Cape Verde eagle referring to the American eagle national emblem, took place off Cape Verde. Its geographical position is of strategic importance in the battle against illegal narcotics entering Africa and Europe.
Engineering Technician Scotty Leng, a member of Argyll’s boarding team, said: “My normal day job involves engineering work on the ship’s 4.5 inch gun so being a member of the boarding party dressed in body armour and carrying a rifle is completely different. It was great to work with the Cape Verde Coastguard and pick up new ideas from them and develop our boarding skills.”
On the final day at sea, Argyll rendezvoused with the Cape Verde Coastguard cutter, Guardião, and after conducting some close quarter manoeuvres the opportunity was taken for a members of Argyll’s ship’s company to transfer to the cutter and gain an understanding and an insight into another nation’s capabilities.
Sub Lieutenant Zach Martin, a member of the Royal New Zealand Navy currently under training on Argyll, said: “The cutter is only three years old and is very impressive. It provides the Cape Verde Coastguard with an invaluable asset and capability in their fight against the illegal drugs trade.”
Argyll now looks forward to the next chapter in her deployment which will see her conducting further operations with West African nations and several high profile visits.
On completion of her tasking in the Atlantic, the ship will undertake a number of important regional engagement visits before returning to her Devonport home in September 2013.