EASTERN PACIFIC (At Sea) (NNS) -- USS Gary (FFG 51), her embarked helicopter squadron and a U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachment (LEDET)operating in support of Operation Martillo seized more than 1644 kilograms of cocaine and rescued four people adrift at sea in December in international waters off the coast of Central America.
This marks Gary's sixth successful interception in recent months, disrupting an approximated total of 4,100 kilograms of cocaine shipments in the region.
While conducting routine flight operations, one of Gary's SH-60B Sea Hawk helicopters from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 49 Detachment 4 was tasked to detect a "Go Fast" vessel traveling in the area.
As Gary's SH-60B helicopter crew searched for the vessel they discovered a debris field floating in the water which Gary maneuvered to investigate.
Once in the vicinity, Gary identified the debris as floating contraband. Gary slowed to deploy her rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) with a joint Coast Guard LEDET and Navy boat crew as lookouts on the ship continued to scan the water for further debris.
One of those lookouts spotted four people floating in the water holding onto a makeshift raft. Responding, Gary's crew transitioned from contraband recovery to search and rescue (SAR) operations.
The four individuals in the water were recovered and brought aboard the frigate. Following SAR operations, Gary's RHIB again moved to recover the contraband as lookouts and her SH-60B helicopter continued to scan the area for any other illicit activity.
Gary's Commanding Officer Cmdr. Steven McDowell, said, "The crew takes pride in knowing their efforts are making a difference."
The Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate USS Gary is currently deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations in support of Operation Martillo, which began in January 2012.
Operation Martillo, a joint, international law enforcement and military operation involving the U.S., European and Western Hemisphere partner nations, targets illicit trafficking routes in the waters off Central America.
U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) leads the U.S. military involvement in the Joint Operation Task Force.
Overall coordination of counter-drug patrols and surveillance in the Eastern Pacific is done by a joint interagency task force headquartered in Key West, Florida.
U.S. maritime law enforcement and the interdiction phase of operations in the region occurs under the tactical control of the 11th Coast Guard District headquartered in Alameda, California.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet support USSOUTHCOM's joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, enhance interoperability and build enduring partnerships 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/.