Drug busting and life-saving efforts by the RFA Lyme Bay crew earned their vessel the title of ‘ship of the year’.
The support ship – built to put Royal Marines and their equipment ashore – spent six months in the Caribbean, dividing her time between tackling drug-running and providing support to communities hit by natural disaster.
With the ship, normally based in Falmouth, in the region throughout hurricane season, the vessel carried a specialist team of disaster relief experts – plus emergency supplies – in addition to her usual mix of sailors, marine personnel and a Lynx helicopter.
The disaster teams were called into action twice. The first in the wake of Tropical Storm Erika which hit parts of Dominica, then in remote islands in the Bahamas after Tropical Storm Joaquin smashed its way through the region.
In the war against illegal drug smuggling, the helicopter on board was used to scout for drug plantations – leading to arrests on the ground by local police.
Among their operations, the ship, helicopter and US Coast Guard have ensured $53m of cocaine will never reach its intended market after intercepting traffickers.