PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- One of Vandegrift's SH-60B Sea Hawk helicopters, from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 49, located a small suspicious vessel in a known drug trafficking area, Vandegrift's crew was able to further track and locate the vessel in order deploy an interceptor boat team.
The Eleventh Coast Guard District directed the Vandegrift to deploy its joint Coast Guard LEDET/Navy Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) boat crew to intercept the vessel. Upon boarding, the LEDET searched the vessel, discovering evidence of illegal trafficking. Further investigation uncovered more than 500 bricks cocaine in connection with the vessel.
"The teamwork and dedication shown by the Sailors onboard Vandegrift is something I am very proud to be a part of," said Cmdr. Daryl Robbin, executive officer of Vandegrift. "Our USN and USCG team is very effective and we are making a difference in countering illicit trafficking on the high seas. Vandegrift looks forward to continued operational success at sea."
This marks Vandegrift's fifth successful smuggling interception in recent months, disrupting approximately 8,700 pounds of cocaine shipments off the coast of Central America.
Vandegrift is currently deployed to the 4th Fleet area of operations in support of Operation Martillo, which began in Jan. 2012.
Operation Martillo, a joint operation involving the U.S., European and Western Hemisphere partner-nations, targets illicit trafficking routes in the waters off Central America. U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) leads the U.S. military involvement in the Joint Operation Task Force.
Overall coordination of counter-drug patrols and surveillance in the Eastern Pacific is done by a joint inter-agency task force headquartered in Key West, Florida. U.S. maritime law enforcement and the interdiction phase of operations in the region occurs under the tactical control of the Eleventh Coast Guard District headquartered in Alameda, California.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet support USSOUTHCOM'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.