HC Deb 23 July 2004 vol 424 cc722-3W
Mr. Edwards

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the role of the Royal Navy in the Caribbean and the deployment of HMS Monmouth in the fight against international drug trafficking. [185285]

Mr. Ingram

A Royal Navy ship, together with a royal fleet auxiliary support tanker, is allocated to the Atlantic Patrol Task (North) (APT(N)). The APT(N) duty ship provides a tangible presence in the Caribbean area of responsibility including throughout the hurricane season (May to November). For the remainder of the year they remain within 14 days sailing. APT(N) provides security to United Kingdom overseas territories including support to humanitarian operations and disaster relief. APT(N) also makes a major contribution as one element of HMG's broader counter-drugs activity and promotes UK interests in the region, supporting defence relations and military training assistance and the wider defence diplomacy effort through a series of high-profile port visits.

After six months as APT(N) ship, five of which were within the Caribbean AOR, HMS Monmouth handed over duties to HMS Richmond on 12 July and is currently en route home. During her deployment HMS Monmouth made two successful interdictions of suspected drug smugglers using "go fast" boats. While the contraband was jettisoned by the smugglers before being apprehended, it is thought that 150–200 kg of cocaine was removed from circulation in each operation.