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Drug-Buster Iron Duke Scores Again!

August 26, 2009
Type 23 Frigate HMS Iron Duke-photo author Jeremy Pearson.

Type 23 Frigate HMS Iron Duke-photo author Jeremy Pearson.

Having just returned from a short refit,  the Royal Navy’s premiere drug busting frigate HMS Iron Duke, goes immediately back into the fray with another big haul in its ongoing counter narcotics mission in the Caribbean. Story is from the UK Defence News:

She was recently directed to a suspicious vessel by a patrol aircraft operated by the Caribbean Regional Security System. Identifying the boat as a ‘Go-Fast’ often used to traffic drugs, HMS Iron Duke closed the contact at night and launched her Lynx helicopter and sea boat.

With an embarked US Coast Guard team they closed on the suspect vessel as its occupants threw the boat’s contents overboard. The quantity of drugs intercepted is estimated at 150kg of cocaine, and whilst it was not recovered as evidence on this occasion it highlights the Royal Navy’s role in the disruption of the drugs trade into the Caribbean islands as a staging post for Europe and the UK.

While the giant new supercarriers and space age missile destroyers are garnering most of the Navy’s procurement funds, struggling to enter service because of technical delays and lacking essential equipment due to costs, this venerable frigate is efficiently and effectively performing the Queens business in foreign waters just as its ancestors did in the Age of Sail and Empire! Finally, we love this quote from the Iron Duke’s skipper Commander Andrew Stacey:

“All my sailors are determined to keep up the pressure on the traffickers and are hungry for further action.”

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike Burleson permalink*
    August 27, 2009 4:55 pm

    Yeah, the RN is still the best!

  2. August 27, 2009 9:56 am

    Great work Duke,

    Good post Mike.

  3. Mike Burleson permalink*
    August 26, 2009 8:50 pm

    And William, no matter how capable such ships are, they can’t be everywhere at once. The fleet that sailed to the Falklands was only 40% of the RN at that time, with the rest guarding against the Soviets, defending the homeland.

  4. William permalink
    August 26, 2009 4:47 pm


    For the £6 Billion the RN paid for SIX Type 45’s, we could have bought TWENTY European FREMM 6000t frigates, but build them in the UK.

    The RN has a further £6 Billion budget to DEVELOP and BUILD TWO more classes, FSC C1 and C2. Almost GUARANTEED to go over budget, building so many different ship classes, which means fewer ships.

    That £6 Billion would buy a FURTHER TWENTY FREMM frigates, giving FOURTY FREMM frigates total. Trying to develop so many different types of ship, the RN may end up with only HALF that number.

  5. Mike Burleson permalink*
    August 26, 2009 4:28 pm

    William said “Should have just continued building Type 23’s.”

    Isn’t this interesting how so many of our legacy platforms have become irreplaceable. I am completely in favor of warfare off the shelf, whether it is legacy fighters, armored vehicles, or warships. America is having the same trouble replacing its 20 year old Burke design, probably the best surface warship we ever built.

    I am thinking we will have something radical to replace these still essential Cold War era designs, and it won’t be bigger or more costly. It will be back to basics, just wait and see!

  6. William permalink
    August 26, 2009 1:04 pm

    Alex, thanks for the info.

    I didn’t know that. Shame as the R&D costs were already paid for.

    I’m a bit concerned about FSC C1, C2 & C3, that we’ll end up paying three sets of R&D, if we go for three different ship designs. Makes me wonder if the RN would be better off using the Type 45 hull and engines for C1 & C2 as they’ll be savings in economy of scale and maintenance throughout their lives, and the R&D has already been paid for. Even if the initial purchase cost is higher. Having 4 different ships (if you include the Type 45) for escorts seems unnecessarily complicated/daft to me.

  7. August 26, 2009 12:52 pm


    the Royal Navy wanted to; they were going to build a Batch 3 of 8 ships with a 32 cell Mk41 vls, and ciws, a goalkeeper I think, mounted on the hangar; these were to proved the fleet with its surface land attack capability – but with the end of the cold war, they were cancelled(not as payment for carriers, or anything else, but just becuase end of cold war, no more requirment according to the civil service). this was short sighted as this would have meant the rn would have had 40 escorts in service in recent times (including T22 frigates, and t42 destroyers) – more importantly though, they would have had enough escorts at the moment to argue for the maintenance of them.

    yours sincerly


  8. William permalink
    August 26, 2009 12:18 pm

    I’m told that by the time the last Type 23 frigate was commissioned in 2002 that they had a build cost of just £127 million. Not bad for what is regarded as the best ASW frigate in the world. Should have just continued building Type 23’s.

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