A significant quantity of suspected controlled drugs has been seized from a bulk cargo vessel originating in South America.

An elite Irish army unit stormed the Panamanian cargo ship MV MATTHEW in a major operation on Tuesday.

Specifically, a joint task force with the participation of Irish defence forces have implemented a co-ordinated operation at sea, which resulted in the detention of a Panamanian registered bulk cargo vessel.

The Irish defence forces reveal that a significant quantity of suspected controlled drugs were located onboard the vessel.

In the operation two AW139 helicopters, one CASA fixed wing aircraft, one PC12 fixed wing aircraft and LE Willian Butler Yeats, have been deployed.

A team from the Army Ranger Wing also assisted in the operation. The container ship was tracked by both Air Corps and the Naval Service assets over a number of days, and was detained following the firing of warning shots in its direction by the LE Willian Butler Yeats.

A specialist team from the Army Ranger Wing then deployed by helicopter onto the ship via fast rope insertion in challenging conditions.

The Army Ranger Wing made the vessel safe and enabled it’s boarding by officials and personnel from the naval service, the garda national drugs unit, organised crime bureau and revenue’s customs service.

The Irish defence forces told media with a statement that the vessel was escorted by the naval service to an Irish Port where it will be detained to allow for a detailed search and investigation by the relevant State agencies.

Chief of staff lieutenant general, Sean Clancy, commended on the efforts of all personnel involved in the operation.

“This Joint and multiagency operation demonstrates the interoperability of Óglaigh na hÉireann, underlining the unique capability that we bring to the defence of the State. The significant intelligence led planning by the Joint Task Force enabled the coordination and execution of this complex multiagency operation. This operation demonstrated the importance of all services of the Defence Forces and their ability to operate in the most challenging of conditions.”