USS JOHN L. HALL, At Sea (NNS) -- While conducting counter narcotic operations in the the western Caribbean in early September, USS John L. Hall (FFG 32) became the first U.S. Navy ship to use Airborne Use of Force (AUF) while on a counter narco-terrorism (CNT) deployment.
A force-multiplier for Joint Interagency Task Force - South (JIATF-S) efforts to counter illegal drug trafficking, AUF involves a U.S. Coast Guard door gunner firing warning shots or disabling fire from a U.S. Navy or U.S. Coast Guard helicopter against non-compliant stateless vessels in international waters that are suspected of carrying contraband.
"This was a total team effort," said Hall Commanding Officer, Cmdr. David A. Geisler. "All the rigorous training we went through prior to deploying has really paid off. Everyone involved performed flawlessly to make this happen safely and effectively."
Supported by the ship, U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment 408 led this mission once the suspect vessel had been identified. Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (Light) (60) Det. 1 flew the mission with the Coast Guard gunner, who engaged the vessel after tactical control for the ship had shifted to U.S. Coast Guard District 7 in Miami.
Fifty bales of narcotics were recovered and eventually turned over to U.S. law enforcement to prosecute the case in court. All the contraband tested positive for heroin or cocaine and the people in the vessel were arrested for smuggling narcotics. The estimated wholesale street price of the cocaine was more than $25 million.
John L. Hall deployed in April for her CNT mission in support of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command. The ship and its embarked helicopter and U.S. Coast Guard detachments are expected to be deployed until fall 2006.
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