MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- Cyclone-class coastal patrol ship USS Zephyr (PC 8) will return from a 76 day patrol in the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations Nov. 10.
Zephyr began its FOURTHFLT patrol Aug. 26 and conducted counter illicit-trafficking operations in support of Operation Martillo.
Operation Martillo, a joint international law enforcement and military operation involving U.S., European, and Western Hemisphere partner nations, targets illicit trafficking routes in the waters off Central America. U.S. Navy forces support the Joint Interagency Task Force South led operation in the Western Caribbean and Eastern Pacific through available air and surface forces.
On Oct. 29, Zephyr and an embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) were conducting routine counter-illicit trafficking operations when they identified a "go fast" boat as a possible drug smuggler.
Upon approaching the vessel, the LEDET boarded and gained control. After a thorough search, 17 bales of cocaine were discovered. An additional 18 bales were recovered from waters near where the "go-fast" vessel was stopped.
Zephyr's interdiction resulted in three detainees and the seizure of 726 kg. of cocaine valued at approximately $17-26 million in street value.
The 76 day patrol was Zephyr's first deployment of this length since being home-ported at Naval Station Mayport. Three PCs, including Zephyr, have been outfitted with advanced capabilities -- including a Coast Guard Over the Horizon Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat, which allows small teams of Coast Guard law enforcement personnel to travel a greater distance from the ship utilizing their own radar.
"The Zephyr crew was not deterred in the least by a record-setting 76 day patrol," said Zephyr Commanding Officer Lt. Cmdr. Grant Greenwell. "The team volunteered liberty time in San Juan, Puerto Rico to help offload supplies destined for Hurricane Maria victims. This crew inspires and motivates me daily; we may be one tenth the size of a destroyer and one tenth the crew, but we have ten times the heart!"
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 to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.
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