USS Stephen W. Groves Chokes Drug Smuggling Operation

Story Number: NNS031114-09Release Date: 11/15/2003 4:00:00 AM
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By Lt. J. A. McConnell, USS Stephen W. Groves Public Affairs

ABOARD USS STEPHEN W. GROVES (NNS) -- A 12-hour, 305-mile chase resulted in the seizure of 1.5 tons of cocaine and the detention of six suspects during USS Stephen W. Groves' (FFG 29) first drug bust in the Eastern Pacific during the frigate's deployment to the U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command Area of Operations.

Participating in a concerted team effort among Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) 201, Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 42 Detachment 10, and the Coast Guard HC-130 from air station Clearwater, Fla., Groves captured a go-fast vessel (GFV), a high-speed boat specifically built for smuggling drugs. After the seizure of the "go-fast," Stephen W. Groves and USCGC Steadfast (WMEC 623)were able to relocate and recover the contraband, which had been jettisoned as the suspects tried to flee, amounting to nearly 1.5 tons of cocaine with a street value of almost $30 million.

According to Ensign Jeff Bolling, LEDET-201 officer in charge, "It is really rare to capture a fully-fuelled go-fast in a flat-out chase."

"Only with the precise coordination of everyone involved was the capture of the go-fast possible," added Groves' Commanding Officer Cmdr. Rudy Laco.

Groves began her six-month counter-drug operations deployment to the U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command area of responsibility Sept. 25. While deployed, Groves' crew works with other assets from Joint Interagency Task Force South, the agency responsible for counter-drug operations in the Eastern Pacific.

Homeported in Pascagoula, Miss., Groves is a Commander, Naval Surface Group 2 ship, assigned to Commander, Destroyer Squadron 6. During the ship's deployment, the crew will be patrolling nearly 4 million square nautical miles of water in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific.

When asked what he thought about Groves' first bust, Ensign Matthew Noland summed it up when he said, "This is what I joined the Navy for, for a chance to get out and do what we train for, and for a chance to actually make a difference, and I know that's what were doing."

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