MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- USS Doyle (FFG 39) and embarked Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (Light) (HSL) 46 Det. 3 returned in September from a successful six-month deployment in the U.S. Southern Command area of operations. The ship's crew and helicopter detachment performed a variety of operations including counter-narcotics patrols.
Under the leadership of commanding officer Cmdr. Joseph P. Voboril, the ship was involved in numerous counter-narcotics interdictions, resulting in the seizure of an estimated $315 million in cocaine and 28 alleged narco-terrorists.
"The motivation of the crew taking part in this important mission, the logistical support received from CTF (Commander, Task Force) 43 (logistics support element in the region), and the administrative and training support from Commander, Destroyer Squadron (COMDESRON) 14 and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, were essential throughout this deployment," said Voboril.
The ship's crew and helicopter detachment worked together for a safe, successful deployment. In the first month, 86 bales of cocaine were seized along with six alleged illicit drug smugglers. However, success did not come without challenges.
May 3, while pursuing a suspected narcotics vessel, the boat burst into flames. At flank speed Doyle closed in on the burning vessel, launched their SH-60B Seahawk helicopter, Cutlass 463, and their rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) to recover four suspected narco-terrorists and began fighting the fire. Doyle's crew battled the blaze for several hours.
"The Rescue and Assistance team did an outstanding job. They were dressed out and ready to go, standing by to fight the fire within minutes," said Damage Control Assistant Lt. j.g. Jacob Catalogna, of Canal Winchester, Ohio.
The firefighting efforts lasted until after midnight, when the ship's damage control personnel, accompanied by U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement agents, boarded the vessel. Though most of the estimated 5,000 pounds of suspected illicit drugs on board were consumed by the fire, the crew saved 150 pounds to use as evidence.
Due to the collective efforts of the Doyle team, they were instrumental in preventing an estimated 13 tons of cocaine from reaching the United States.
In addition to interdicting narcotic smuggling, the crew visited the ports of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Ochos Rios, Jamaica; Curacao, Netherlands Antilles; and Panama City, Panama; and Acapulco, Mexico.
The crew also took the opportunity to donate their time and talent by painting an orphanage in Curacao. Twenty-two Doyle Sailors participated in the project.
"The project was great. It took a lot of long hours and coordination. It was great helping people that needed help," said project coordinator Operations Specialist 1st Class Jimmy McGill, from Turbeville, S.C.
Following their return to Mayport, Doyle will begin a training availability in preparation for their next Fleet Response Plan mission. The helicopter detachment will return to its squadron to also train for future mission tasking.
For more information on U.S. Southern Command and its mission, go to www.southcom.mil/home/. For information on U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command go to www.cusns.navy.mil.
For related news, visit the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cusns/.