Royal Navy warship HMS Argyll has made her first port stop to Lisbon for a briefing on the illegal drugs trade activities off the West African coast.
The Plymouth frigate left the UK a week ago for a seven-month deployment and arrived in Portugal where leaders in the fight against the illegal narcotics trade briefed the crew on their impending mission.
Lisbon is home to the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre (Narcotics) – an international crime-fighting organisation of European nations, including the UK, who are responsible for tackling drug trafficking from the Cape of Good Hope to the North Cape.
Experts from the centre joined the African Maritime Law Enforcement Programme on board HMS Argyll to offer advice on their impending operations in West African waters.
Commander Tim Neild, HMS Argyll’s commanding officer, said: “The Royal Navy is at sea every day, working with international partners to provide global maritime security where it is needed. As we prepare for operations, it is vital that my team are fully briefed and up to date on the illicit activity off the West African coast and the operations centre in Portugal is the centre of excellence in this field. With their advice my team is now fully equipped and ready to join in the global fight against narcotics and I am confident that we will deliver success in all that is asked of us.”
Before sailing into Lisbon HMS Argyll had the opportunity to work with ships and aircraft from the Portuguese Navy carrying out operational training in home waters.
A series of exercises were conducted to test the war fighting capabilities of all participating units in surface and above water warfare.
Lieutenant Commander Simon Cox, HMS Argyll’s operations officer, said: “We welcome opportunities like this to work and train together develop a common understanding and aid our ability to work together. Whilst our next operations are focussed on counter-narcotics, with such global instability it is important we maintain our fighting edge so we are ready for any contingency operations we may be called upon to execute.”
On completion of its tasking in the Atlantic the ship will undertake a number of high-profile regional engagement visits before returning to Plymouth Devonport at the end of the summer.