MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- The guided-missile frigate USS Boone (FFG 28) returned to homeport at Naval Station (NS) Mayport, Fla. Sept. 18 following a six-month deployment in support of Southern Seas 2011 and counter illicit trafficking operations in the U.S. 4th Fleet (C4F) area of responsibility.
Southern Seas is a U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM)-directed operation implemented by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and C4F (COMUSNAVSO/C4F). This year it involved the deployment of USS Boone (FFG 28) with embarked Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 74 detachment 4 and U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachments 401 and 406.
Over the course of six months, the Boone team circumnavigated the South American continent making eighteen port visits, transiting the Straits of Magellan, Panama Canal and visiting seven countries in addition to participating in major multinational exercises including both Pacific and Atlantic phases of UNITAS.
"This is the reason we deploy," said Lt. Jason Lautar, Boone operations officer. "Accomplishing various missions and conducting a variety of simultaneous operations not only showcases the versatility and multi-mission capabilities of naval warships such as Boone, but also emphasizes the criticality of seamless teamwork."
Boone had a highly successful and rewarding deployment, including invitations to revisit several countries in South America. In the Eastern Pacific Ocean Boone conducted one of the highest dollar-value drug busts in the past six years, nabbing more than $40 million worth of cocaine from a single vessel. The drugs and detainees were later transferred to the USS Rentz (FFG 46) for transport to Costa Rican authorities. The drug bust came on a day already planned for celebration: Aug. 30, the 116th birthday anniversary of the ship's namesake, Vice Admiral Joel T. Boone.
"As the ship concludes its last deployment before decommissioning, I have no doubt that Admiral Boone himself would have been proud of the rich tradition the USS Boone has accomplished," said Cmdr. Roy Love, Boone commanding officer, Cmdr. Roy Love. "Throughout the past six months, I have been impressed on a daily basis by the well-trained professionals that make up my crew. Although they were separated from their loved ones, the Boone crew excelled everyday and completed countless missions on behalf of the United States."
Boone, an Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate, has been in service since May 15, 1982 and is scheduled for decommissioning February 2012.
COMUSNAVSO/C4F supports USSOUTHCOM joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.
For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.