Irish naval officers awarded for 'skill and courage' in South American cocaine seizure
Three Naval Service personnel were honoured for the skill and courage they displayed during Ireland's biggest ever drug interdiction operation which involved the seizure of €750m of South American cocaine.
Defence Minister Paul Kehoe paid tribute to the professionalism and bravery of Naval Service personnel as part of a special ceremony at Haulbowline Naval Base to honour those involved in Operation Seabight on November 5 2008.
During the operation, which was co-ordinated with the Gardaí and Customs & Excise agents, the navy intercepted the yacht 'Dances With Waves' some 150 nautical miles off Ireland's south west coast.
Despite horrendous weather conditions, the navy managed to board the vessel before efforts could be made to dump the 1.5 tons of cocaine on board.
The drugs had a street value of €750m and was destined for the UK and Irish markets.
The cocaine involved had been sourced from Columbia and was amongst the highest grade of the drug ever seized off Ireland.
Mr Kehoe and Defence Forces Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Mark Mellet presented a Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) to Lieutenant Commander Jamie Cotter and special commendations to Commander (Retired) Eugene Ryan and Lieutenant Commander Martin Brett.
Lt Cmdr Cotter was the boarding officer during the interception of 'Dances With Waves'.
"His actions displayed bravery, courage and devotion to duty in an extremely hazardous operational environment, leading to the arrest and detention of the yacht," Mr Kehoe said.
The navy boarding party managed to get on board the yacht without incident despite dealing with the most challenging sea conditions imaginable.
Both Cmdr Ryan and Lt Cmdr Brett were given commendations for their role in the operation.
Cmdr Ryan had overall responsibility of the operation.
Lt Cmdr Brett was the captain of LÉ Niamh which was in tactical command of the two ship task group which intercepted the yacht.
Once boarded, 'Dances With Waves' was escorted into Castletownbere in west Cork where the drugs were offloaded.