LONDON, July 28, 2008 — -- Britain's Prince William took part in a helicopter raid that opened fire on a speedboat carrying suspected drug runners, the Ministry of Defense announced this weekend.
The raid, which took place on July 18, was the second time this month that the prince and the rest of the crew onboard the Royal Navy ship, HMS Iron Duke, were involved in a counter-drug smuggling operation in the Caribbean.
William would ordinarily be attending the annual Cartier International Polo Match this weekend, but instead the prince, who is second in line to the British throne, is serving a tour onboard the HMS Iron Duke as part of his training in the British armed forces.
A spokesman from the British military told ABCNews.com that the raid was launched when the Iron Duke intercepted a speedboat approximately 110 miles north of the coastlines of Venezuela and Colombia.
The British Royal Navy patrols the seas of the U.K.'s overseas territories, commonwealth countries and allies.
Although the Iron Duke's primary mission is to provide support and disaster relief to Britain's territories, it also works in tandem with the U.S. Coast Guard to conduct drug enforcement operations. The prince and the 185 shipmates are now patrolling the Caribbean to prevent drug trafficking around South and Central America.
William, was in one of the HMS Iron Duke's helicopters taking part in a training flight when the aircraft was re-directed to intercept the suspected speedboat.
A commando on the helicopter fired warning shots after the vessel ignored radio calls to stop. When the boat continued to flee, the Royal Marines in the helicopter fired five rounds of 'non-lethal disabling fire,' at the boat's engine to stop the boat.
A military spokesperson told The Associated Press that William did not take part in the firing but played a "lookout role," in the operation.
After returning to the ship, William resumed his position as the Officer of the Watch, where he helped other officers and members of the U.S. Coast Guard launch the ship's boats and board the speed boat.
Authorities arrested three Colombians from the speedboat and turned them over to Colombian authorities, said the military. Although traces of cocaine were found on the three individuals, no drugs were found onboard. The military spokesman said that officials believe drugs may have been dumped into the ocean.
Unlike the raid earlier this month northeast of Barbados, when the Iron Duke seized nearly a ton of cocaine worth at least $80 million, this operation was more spontaneous.
"This was more of a reactive operation rather than a planned situation," said the military spokesman, who spoke anonymously, as is customary military policy in Britain.
The Commanding Officer of the Iron Duke, Mark Newland, said in a statement, "the first 30-day patrol of our Caribbean deployment has been an enormous success. My ship's company are elated at again disrupting the activities of suspected drug-runners."
The raid was not announced until Saturday because of "sensitivities surrounding the operations on the boat," the military spokesperson told ABCNews.com.
William, 26, is on a two-month assignment with the Royal Navy until Aug. 1. He and his younger brother Harry, 24, are continuing a family tradition of military service. Their father, Prince Charles and their grandfather, Prince Philip, served in the Navy. The military will not comment on Prince William's next tour of duty.