USS VANDEGRIFT, At Sea (NNS) -- The Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) entered the 4th Fleet area of responsibility May 21 in support of Operation Martillo.
Operation Martillo (Spanish for "hammer"), a joint operation involving the U.S., European and Western Hemisphere partner-nations, targets illicit trafficking routes in the waters off Central America. Southern Command leads the U.S. military involvement in Joint Operation Task Force-South.
Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment 402, deployed aboard the Vandegrift, is supported by Vandegrift's Visit, Board, Search and Seizure team and Helicopter Anti-Submarine Light Squadron 49 Detachment 3.
The U.S. contribution to Operation Martillo includes U.S. Navy and Coast Guard aircraft and ships working together to deny transnational criminal organizations the ability to export illegal narcotics along the Central American coastline.
Operation Martillo is a critical part of the U.S. government's support of the White House Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime and the U.S. Central America Regional Security Initiative.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command's joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.