A captain and two crew have been charged after more than a tonne of cocaine was discovered on a fishing trawler off Falmouth, Cornwall.

The Irish captain of a converted fishing trawler, Bianca, and two crew have appeared in court after more than a tonne of cocaine was found on board.

The vessel, which is British registered, was intercepted by officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Border Force Maritime Command just south of Falmouth in Cornwall.

The joint NCA and Border Force operation happened on 18 August.

Officers on board two Border Force cutters, HMC Seeker and HMC Searcher, boarded the Bianca and discovered approximately 50 bags suspected of containing cocaine.

Bianca is tracked by National crime agency officers

The converted fishing trawler, Bianca, is tracked by officers. Credit: NCA

The Bianca was then escorted to Falmouth where a full search was carried out, supported by Border Force officers from the new Cornwall Hub.

The vessel was found to have more than a tonne of cocaine on board.

All three crew were charged with importing cocaine.

The Irish captain, Michael McDermott, 67, and the crew, Dutch national Gerald Van De Kooij, 26, and British national David Pleasants, 57, were remanded in custody by Bodmin Magistrates’ Court on 20 August.

Their next hearing is at Bristol Crown Court on 20 September.

The NCA’s Border Policing Command, Mark Harding, commented: “A seizure on this scale is likely have a significant disruptive impact right along the supply chain, leaving criminals with large debts to be covered. And it will have knock on effects, disrupting further criminality that would have been funded by the profits of this venture.”

Border Force’s Director of National Operations Mike Stepney described it as “one of the most significant drugs seizures ever made in the UK and a testament to the multi-agency approach we adopt to secure the UK’s border and territorial waters.”

“By working closely with the NCA and our other national and international partners we were able to intercept this vessel before it could deliver its £80 million of cargo to the UK,” he said.

“This seizure is a fantastic example of the vital role our officers play in preventing drugs from reaching the UK and keeping our communities safe,” he added.

The operation was assisted by the National Maritime Information Centre and Devon and Cornwall Police.

The NCA investigation continues.