USS GARY, At Sea - The Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Gary (FFG-51) celebrated the Navy's 237th birthday Oct. 13 all while carrying out its Counter Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC) mission as part of Operation Martillo while assigned to U.S. the 4th Fleet Area of Responsibility.
During the celebration Gary began tracking a vessel suspected of transporting illegal drugs with the help of embarked Seahawk Helicopter Squadron 49 Detachment 3. Eventually the suspected vessel was stopped and a U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment boarded and conducted a search. The search failed to discover any illegal contraband and the ship was permitted to continue.
"Although we didn't find any drugs this particular search, it's important to get the word out and let people know what we are doing out here to deter illegal activity," said Command Master Chief Keith A. Webb. "Smugglers are becoming more innovative in order to avoid us, so we must remain vigilant to keep ahead of their innovation with a little of our own," he said.
The crew enjoyed the celebration which included an awards presentation and cake-cutting ceremony.
"[The year] 1775 was a very important year not just for the Navy, but for America. The Navy played a very important role in the United States becoming the country we are today, and celebrating our 237th birthday is not only important for American Sailors, but for America," Webb said.
Gary is homeported in San Diego and is currently deployed in support of Operation Martillo, under operational control to U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and C4F (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) while conducting CTOC operations in support of Joint Interagency Task Force - South (JIATF-S), U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM), and U.S. Coast Guard District Seven.
Operation Martillo (Spanish for 'hammer') is a U.S., European, and Western Hemisphere partner nation effort targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus. U.S. military participation is being led by JIATF, a component of USSOUTHCOM. Operation Martillo is a component of the U.S. government's coordinated interagency regional security strategy in support of the White House strategy to combat transnational organized crime and the U.S. Central America Regional Security Initiative.