KEY WEST, U.S.A. – The United Kingdom (UK) Royal Navy warship HMS Argyll recently rejoined Operation MARTILLO, exactly 12 months after the ship’s crew successfully seized nearly US$128 million worth of drugs in the Pacific Ocean and apprehended three traffickers.
The HMS Argyll, which departed from the U.S. city of Key West in the state of Florida, will patrol the Caribbean region as part of Operation MARTILLO, a multinational project that aims to disrupt transnational criminal organizations by limiting their ability to use Central America as a transit zone.
Operation MARTILLO includes Canada, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The HMS Argyll’s operations in the Caribbean are overseen from Key West. The 180-crew ship recently hosted local military officials and dignitaries to showcase the vessel’s abilities, especially in counter-narcotics missions.
U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Steven J. DePalmer, who is the deputy director Joint Interagency Task Force South, was the guest of honor at the event, which also was attended by Key West Mayor Craig Cates and Preston Brewer, the president of the board of directors of the Navy League Key West Council.
“The Royal Navy is committed to the maintenance of maritime security worldwide, frequently working alongside our allies, especially close partners such as the U.S.,” Cmdr. Paul Hammond, the Argyll’s commanding officer, told those in attendance. “Over the next six months, HMS Argyll will conduct a wide range of operations in the Caribbean including working with the Joint Inter-Agency Task Force during counter-narcotics operations.”
Hammond added: “Meeting at this early stage has enabled a greater mutual understanding between HMS Argyll and the task force – and this will allow me to deliver more effect at sea during our counter-narcotics operations.”
The HMS Argyll looks to continue its success in the counter-narcotics fight after seizing nearly US$128 million worth of drugs in the Pacific Ocean and apprehending three traffickers who have been sentenced collectively to 40 years in prison.
The HMS Argyll, which is aiming to return to its homeport in Plymouth, England, by the end of the year, is prepared to provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief to the United Kingdom’s overseas territories in the region during hurricane season.
The stop in Key West also allowed members of the HMS Argyll’s soccer and rugby teams to compete against local opponents.
“Key West has a fantastic rugby team who plays well on the pitch and looks after its guests extremely well off the pitch,” Engineering Technician (Marine Engineering) Gareth Willey, the rugby team’s captain, said in a prepared statement.