By Lt. Victoria Einbinder
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs
The Cyclone-class Patrol Coastal USS Zephyr (PC 8) returned today from her first 45-day patrol in the U.S 4th Fleet area of operations. Zephyr patrolled the 4th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR) since Apr. 22, 2016, conducting counter illicit trafficking (CIT) operations in support of Operation MARTILLO.
Operation MARTILLO, a joint, international law enforcement and military operation involving U.S., European and Western Hemisphere partner nations, targets illicit trafficking routes in the waters off Central America. U.S. Navy forces support the Joint Interagency Task Force-South-led operation in the Western Caribbean and Eastern Pacific through available air and surface assets.
The 45-day patrol was Zephyr's first deployment since she transferred service from the Coast Guard to the Navy to help fill the gap left by the decommissioning of the remaining Oliver Hazard Perry Frigates last year. Three PCs, homeported in Mayport, Florida, have been outfitted with advanced capabilities including a U.S. Coast Guard Over the Horizon Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (OTH-RHIB), which allows small teams of U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement personnel to travel a greater distance from the ship utilizing their own radar.
Zephyr is credited with supporting one interdiction during her patrol, resulting in two detainees and the seizure of 726kg cocaine valued at approximately $14.5 million.
" Zephyr has enjoyed the opportunity to conduct CIT cooperative engagements throughout the Caribbean," said Lt. Cmdr. Cameron Ingram, Zephyr's Commanding Officer.
"Zephyr's involvement in the CIT mission aims to maintain economic stability for our allied and partner nations throughout the U.S. Southern Command region. Our ship has been extremely impressed with the professionalism from both JIATF South and the U.S. Coast Guard, and we look forward to continuing our support in future patrols," said Ingram.
Lt. Cmdr. Ingram relieved Lt. Cmdr. Colin Roberts as Commanding Officer, underway in Zephyr on May 31, 2016.
So far this calendar year, U.S. Navy assets have contributed to the seizure or disruption of more than 65,292 kg of cocaine, 3,360 pounds of marijuana and the detention and processing of 170 suspected smugglers. These assets include U.S. Navy Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), USS Lassen (DDG 82), and USS Shamal (PC 13) working in conjunction with U.S. Coast Guard Cutters with embarked U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachments.