Chinese gangsters used Britain’s most powerful World War II cruiser warship to sneak £10m of drugs into the UK on her final journey

£10m worth of heroin was smuggled into the country aboard HMS Belfast on her final trip, a historian has claimed.

As reported by the Daily Mail, author and historian Tim Newark claims Triad gangsters hid opium in suitcases and laundry sacks and paid three Royal Navy crewmen to hide the drugs in the galley of the ship.

HMS Belfast’s commander discovered the stash of drugs when she was sailing into Portsmouth in 1962. At the time it was the biggest haul of drugs the country had seen, worth today’s equivalent of £9.65m.

“This is a major revelation, given the public’s perception of HMS Belfast,” said Mr Newark. “Until now, it’s been known as Britain’s flagship cruiser – a whiter-than-white addition to our Royal Navy fleet.”

“But in fact, it was a floating warehouse of illicit drugs. It was used to transport the biggest single haul of narcotics that Britain had ever seen.”

Mr Newark said it’s hard to know if the crewmen were mules or gang members and is ‘convinced’ that Navy battleships may have been involved in more smuggling operations. He asked: “How much more opium and heroin had the Royal Navy safely transported around the world for the Triads?”

Photo by Will Palmer.