Sunday, March 14, 2010
The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1), conducting counter-illicit trafficking (CIT) operations in the U.S. 4th Fleet area of focus, intercepted and captured a high-speed "go-fast" vessel carrying more than 1 1/2 tons of cocaine. The late-night seizure of the "go-fast," its illicit cargo and five suspected drug smugglers was the second narcotics seizure in 10 days for Freedom and its embarked Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, LCS Surface Warfare Mission Package and U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET). It also marked Freedom's first apprehension of personnel suspected of narcotics trafficking and their vessel. Freedom was on routine patrol when it intercepted a suspected drug vessel, and launched an MH-60S. The "go-fast" attempted to elude the MH-60S, but Freedom closed on the vessel and intercepted it, forcing the suspects to stop. Freedom then launched a response team of Sailors and Coast Guardsmen to apprehend the suspects and secure the vessel and its illegal cargo.A search of the vessel yielded 51 bales of cocaine weighing 1,506 kilos (3,315 pounds), all seized by the LEDET as evidence in preparation for possible criminal prosecution. The five suspects were taken into custody aboard Freedom. The coordinated actions of the Navy, Coast Guard and JIATF-S were instrumental to the successful interdiction of narcotics. Freedom's first CIT seizure came on Feb. 22, when it disrupted a high-speed "go-fast" vessel and recovered more than a quarter of a ton of cocaine from the western Caribbean Sea. Freedom, which will be homeported in San Diego, is currently on its maiden deployment in the Caribbean and the coasts of Central and South America under the operational control of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (NAVSO)/U.S. 4th Fleet. Freedom is conducting CIT operations in support of JIATF-S, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and U.S. Coast Guard District Seven.