USS Ingraham (FFG 61) with Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 49 Detachment 2 and U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) personnel intercepted 680 kilograms of cocaine illegally trafficked in the 4th Fleet Area of Responsibility on Aug. 21.
Ingraham, based in Everett, Washington, successfully tracked and intercepted a go-fast vessel in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The panga was fitted with two outboard motors, capable of speeds of more than 30 knots.
Upon detection of one of Ingraham's SH-60B Seahawks, the crew of the vessel threw a significant amount of narcotics overboard. The panga was compelled to stop after warning shots were fired by a Coast Guard marksman aboard Ingraham's helicopter.
"I am very proud of my crew, the air department, and the Coast Guard law enforcement detachment for their quick and effective response to a very elusive and evasive threat," said Ingraham's commanding officer, Cmdr. Dan Straub. "Simultaneously launching and recovering the helicopter and the ship's small boat while chasing a go-fast vessel laden with contraband is challenging work. The professional and efficient manner in which our teams operate is impressive on many levels."
The jettisoned bales were netted together, allowing Ingraham's rigid-hulled inflatable boat to recover all of the discarded contraband. The seizure totaled approximately 680 kilograms of cocaine. The U.S. Coast Guard LEDET embarked the go-fast vessel and apprehended three illegal drug traffickers.
Ingraham has disrupted a total of approximately 7,188 kilograms of cocaine during her deployment. This is her fifth successful interdiction since arriving in 4th Fleet in support of Operation Martillo. Ingraham seized a self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) in May, a fishing vessel in June, and several other go-fast vessels.
Under the international counter illicit trafficking initiative called Operation Martillo. U.S. military, Coast Guard, law enforcement agencies and regional partner nation law enforcement agencies patrol the waters in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Pacific on a year-round basis in an effort to detect, monitor and interdict illicit traffickers.
During at-sea busts in international waters, a suspect vessel is initially located and tracked by U.S. military or law enforcement aircraft or vessels. The actual interdictions - boarding, search, seizures and arrests - are led and conducted by U.S. Coast Guard LEDETs or partner nation law enforcement agencies.
U.S. maritime law enforcement and the interdiction phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific occurs under the tactical control of the 11th Coast Guard District headquartered in Alameda, California.
Operation Martillo (Hammer) includes the participation of 14 nations that are working together to counter trans-national organized crime and illicit trafficking in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus. Joint Interagency Task Force South, a National Task Force under U.S. Southern Command, oversees the detection and monitoring of illicit traffickers and assists U.S. and multinational law enforcement agencies with the interdiction of these illicit traffickers.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command's joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations in order 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.