SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS Curts (FFG 38) returns to its homeport of San Diego Feb. 2 from a six-month deployment to the U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command area of responsibility (AOR) in support of law enforcement operations against the illegal smuggling of narcotics.
In early August 2004, Curts embarked its SH-60B helicopter detachment, Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron (Light) (HSL) 45 Det. 6, homeported at Naval Air Station North Island, and a U.S. Coast Guard detachment from Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Detachment (PACTACLET) in San Diego, for deployment.
The ship’s crew of 220 Sailors and Coast Guardsmen operated in the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean Sea under Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) South tactical control and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (NAVSOUTH) operational control.
During her six-month deployment, Curts directly supported three drug interdiction operations, totaling more than 44,000 pounds of cocaine. One of the interdiction operations, conducted Sept. 17, yielded 30,000 pounds, the largest seizure in the history of counter-drug operations.
"Our success was a result of team effort on board the ship and with our combined forces," said Cmdr. Luis A. Boticario, Curts’ commanding officer. "I cannot say enough to commend this outstanding group of professional Sailors and Coast Guardsmen who selflessly dedicated themselves to the mission in every weather condition, night and day. This is teamwork at its best."
The drug interdiction team included a Coast Guard detachment, PACTACLET, which designed the best way to intercept and interdict the smugglers. Curts’ engineering team maintained the plant in top shape to conduct high-speed intercepts in excess of 30 knots against smugglers on go-fast vessels.
In addition, Curts’ operations and intelligence specialists worked with other agencies in putting together a common operational picture to interdict the smuggling operations. Curts’ weapons detail and visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) personnel provided support for the Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) when boarding suspect vessels. The final and crucial element of the team was the helicopter detachment, HSL-45, Det. 6, which assisted Curts in intercepting over-the-horizon targets of interest.
While deployed, Curts also operated in the Atlantic Ocean, transiting through the Panama Canal Oct. 31 and visiting Key West and Mayport, Fla., for a mid-deployment maintenance availability. Curts returned to the Pacific Ocean Dec. 9, visiting the ports of Vasco Nunez de Balboa, Panama; Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, en route to San Diego.