Harbour staff from Salcombe recently stopped and investigated a suspicious vessel which entered the harbour at the beginning of May.
The yacht’s crew were seen to be acting in an unusual way with regard to their attitude, behaviour and seamanship. This alerted the Moorings team who thought it was acting suspiciously so they contacted the Police and Project Kraken.
Project Kraken delivers a crime and counter terrorist vigilance expertise within the maritime environment of the harbours and estuaries around the South Hams. It is part of a National Maritime Security Strategy with 90% of UK police forces having the responsibility for a coastline and inland waterways.
The next day the boat was inspected by Special Branch Counter Terrorism Unit and Police divers. Although nothing was found on that occasion, it potentially contributed to a wider ongoing operation, as mentioned in a Telegraph newspaper recent report, dated 18 May, with positive results.
Salcombe Harbour Master, Adam Parnell, said: “I’m delighted that my team acted upon their suspicions that ‘something wasn’t quite right’ about this boat, and followed the advice of Project Kraken. By informing the Police Project Kraken they set in train a series of inspections on the boat by Counter Terrorism and Police Dive teams. This ultimately contributed to their arrest by the French Authorities”
South Hams District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Commercial Services, Cllr Rufus Gilbert, said: “The team in Salcombe have obviously got their eyes open to potential traffickers and will spot anything unusual coming in or out of the harbour. A fantastic job of partnership working with other agencies to share marine intelligence, which resulted in the eventual arrest of these people.”
The boat was later found to be part of a smuggling ring, using pleasure yachts to transport illegal migrants to Britain and the crew are currently under Police arrest.