Prince William's Warship Snares $80M Drug Haul

Prince William took part in a major drug bust as his Royal Navy ship seized cocaine worth at least 40 million pounds ($80 million), according to the U.K.'s Ministry of Defence.

The HMS Iron Duke intercepted an oceangoing speedboat Saturday at 1712 BST, hundreds of miles northeast of Barbados, in a joint operation with the United States Coast Guard, the Defense Ministry said. The boat's position suggested it was heading for Europe or West Africa.

A Lynx Helicopter was dispatched from the warship to track down the 50-foot speedboat. The ship's commander, Mark Newland, told ABC that Prince William was onboard the helicopter.

Personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard onboard the Royal Navy ship boarded the boat and seized 45 bales of cocaine, weighing a total of 900 kilos (1,984 pounds). They arrested its five man crew and transferred the drugs to the HMS Iron Duke. The identities of the five men are not known.

The Ministry of Defence said the smugglers' boat later sank. The boat was in very poor condition and was actually sinking as it was boarded.

Prince William, who is second in line to the English throne, is on a two-month attachment with the Royal Navy until Aug. 1.

Cmdr. Mark Newland told ABC News that this was a routine operation and the prince was not in any danger.

Earlier this year, Prince William stirred controversy after using a military helicopter to fly to social events. On one occasion, he used an RAF helicopter to fly to his cousin Peter Phillips' stag weekend, costing $17,300.

The prince's military training appears to be going well. In June, the prince earned high marks from commanding officers for his boat-handling skills at the helm of a 40-foot craft.

The prince and his 185 shipmates are patrolling the Caribbean to track down drug smugglers trafficking cocaine from South and Central America.

The ship was four days into its five-week patrol of the region.

According to the Royal Navy, the ship's commanding officer Mark Newland said, "This is a fantastic start to HMS Iron Duke's North Atlantic Deployment. To have had a direct impact on the flow of cocaine into Europe, just four days after we arrived in theater, shows the benefit the Royal Navy can have in the area of maritime security and counter drug operations."

The HMS Iron Duke's main role is to act as support vessel serving the UK's overseas territories, commonwealth countries and allies. However, it recently took the team from the U.S. Coast Guard onboard to assist with the war on drugs.

Allison Havey contributed to the reporting of this story.

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