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Sep 24, 2013

British warship docks off the coast of the Old Capital

Given its geographic location, Belize has long been determined as a transit point for drugs coming from Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. It is estimated that the amount of cocaine passing through Belize is in the range of tens of tons per year. This week, HMS Lancaster, a British warship is in Belizean waters primarily to assist in the efforts to curb narco-trafficking. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

HMS Lancaster, a medium-sized warship, is one of few vessels restricted to male sailors in the Royal Navy.  Affectionately known as the Queen’s Frigate, this four hundred and thirty-two foot man-of-war is currently moored a few nautical miles off the coast of Belize City.  Its presence in the Caribbean is part of a regional anti-drug operation.


Adrian Gubby

Lt. Cdr. Adrian Gubby, Weapons Engineer, HMS Lancaster

“HMS Lancaster left the UK at the end of May and she’ll be out in the Caribbean until the thirtieth of November when we depart to go back to the United Kingdom.  We’re in the Caribbean for three primary purposes; the first one being defense of overseas territories; second, counter narcotics and thirdly, humanitarian and disaster relief in the unfortunate event of a hurricane coming through the Caribbean.  We’re there to lend a hand to any one of the islands that would potentially need our assistance.”


Launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on May 24th, 1990 and commissioned into the Royal Navy two years later, HMS Lancaster is deployed worldwide in support of British interests.  The United Kingdom is one of a number of countries to have liaison officers assigned to the Joint Interagency Task Force South.  JIATF South, for short, is a multi-service, multi-agency unit which carries out counter illicit trafficking operations in the region.


Lt. Cdr. Adrian Gubby

“So we’re part of a fifteen nation task group out here so we work very closely with the Americans, the French and the Danish and we all collaboratively work together to try and stop that illicit trade of cocaine coming from South America to the whole world.  We’ve had three busts since we’ve been out here in the Caribbean, the most recent one was a hundred million pounds worth of cocaine, pure cocaine that we intercepted on its way from South America up to the central Caribbean.”


On deck is a Lynx helicopter.  The gunship is fitted with several torpedoes, depth charges, as well as mounted machine guns.  Though not for use in this part of the world the HMS Lancaster comes fully equipped with armaments designed for various forms of warfare.


Lt. Cdr. Adrian Gubby

“We’re fully fitted with the weapon systems that we would need if we were to go anywhere, particularly the Arabian Gulf although that’s not why we’re here in the Caribbean.  Clearly we’re here to help people out here and so a lot of things that we have onboard, you know, are not for use here but for use elsewhere.  But we have defensive systems and some offensive systems as well.  And we have a helicopter onboard which greatly assists us with the counter narcotics elements.”


Elsewhere on the battle cruiser are two installations of miniguns capable of firing at a rate of four thousand rounds per minute.  Notwithstanding the heavier artillery onboard, that’s enough firepower to chew through any small vessel in sight, below and above surface.


Lt. Cdr. Adrian Gubby

“We were built as an anti-submarine platform all that time ago.  These days we’re more of a general purpose platform so we came out to the Caribbean.  In a couple of years we will return to the Atlantic, actually to the South Atlantic.  We have a hundred and ninety people onboard, a hundred and eighty UK personnel and ten U.S. Coastguard personnel onboard as well who assist us with the counter narcotics piece.”


Isani Cayetano

“In terms of life on the open seas what is that like for the average seaman?”


Lt. Cdr. Adrian Gubby

“Well I think we try to make it as sort of normal as possible so clearly we do work every day and we have people on watch all the time.  But, you know, when people have time off they try and enjoy some sports, running around the upper deck and enjoying the beautiful Caribbean weather.”


The Lancaster is also known as the Red Rose Frigate, after the emblem of Lancashire which it carries. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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1 Response for “British warship docks off the coast of the Old Capital”

  1. history minded says:

    Waste of time – they persevering their interests

    The drugs flow will continue as long as there is a demand – b.c it provides some source of income in this side of the world..

    Let their citizens stop lessen there desires for drugs

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