USS MCINERNEY, At Sea (NNS) -- USS McInerney (FFG 8) and embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) 404 seized a submarine vessel carrying seven tons of cocaine off the coast of Guatemala Sept. 13.
In the early morning hours, McInerney and LEDET 404, in collaboration with Patrol Squadron (VP) 26's Combat Air Crew 12, successfully interdicted a self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) vessel carrying an estimated $107 million worth of cocaine 350 miles east of Guatemala.
The 59-foot-long steel and fiberglass-hulled SPSS was detected by VP 26's P-3C Orion aircraft. The air crew vectored McInerney to a position near the illicit vessel. McInerney launched two rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIB) with members of both McInerney's and LEDET 404's visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) teams.
The suspects attempted to evade capture and drown any evidence of the operation but eventually complied to the boarding teams' instructions, allowing USS McInerney to capture the SPSS before it was scuttled.
After a full day of inventory and information gathering, four suspected illicit-traffickers and more than seven metric tons of cocaine were removed from the SPSS.
Information gathered during McInerney's interdiction, and other similar drug busts, help complete the mission of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) to prevent trafficking of illicit drugs throughout the SOUTHCOM area of focus, which encompasses Central and South America, the Caribbean and surrounding waters.
McInerney, homeported in Mayport, Fla., is currently deployed under the operational control of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (NAVSO)/U.S. Fourth Fleet, conducting counter-illicit trafficking operations for Joint Interagency Task Force-South in the SOUTHCOM area of focus.
As the naval component command of SOUTHCOM, NAVSO's mission is to direct U.S. Naval Forces operating in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions and interact with partner nation navies within the maritime environment. Various operations include counter-illicit trafficking, theater security cooperation, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, military-to-military interaction and bilateral and multinational training.
Fourth Fleet is the numbered fleet assigned to NAVSO, exercising operational control of assigned forces in the SOUTHCOM area of focus.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.