By MCSN Kameren Guy Hodnett
USS Halyburton Public Affairs

The oldest Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Halyburton stopped at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for a scheduled refueling stop Jan. 18 and to begin its mission in the 4th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR).

Halyburton departed Naval Station Mayport just a few days before with a full crew, an embarked air detachment from the Grandmasters of Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 46 and an embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) to support Operation Martillo and join the fight again Counter Illicit Trafficking (CIT) operations in the region.

Operation Martillo (Spanish for 'hammer') is a multinational mission tasked with conducting those CIT operations. Belize, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States are participating in Martillo with additional contributions from Chile.

 "We are very thrilled to work hand-and-hand with the Sailors aboard Halyburton," said Maritime Enforcement Specialist 2nd Class Fidel Castillo, a U.S. Coast Guard LEDET boarding officer aboard Halyburton.  "Our mission aboard USS Halyburton is vital. We are here to provide law enforcement support, in order to enable the navy's maritime security mission to counter drug tasking."

Castillo went on to say enthusiastically that since this is Halyburton's last deployment, the LEDET is extraordinarily keen about getting a drug bust so that Halyburton ends her service life on a high note while supporting Operation Martillo and her nation as she has done for more than 30 years.

The Coast Guardsmen have conducted controlled drills with Halyburton's Visit, Board, Search and Seizure team (VBSS) to build cohesion and ensure compliance with the applicable rules of engagement and use of force.  They have also worked with the aircrews of HSM 46 on aerial use of force.

 "It was great to get to work with the Halyburton VBSS team and Law enforcement detachment all together in our operating area," said Lt j.g. Brian Stong, a pilot assigned to the Grandmasters of HSM 46 detachment 4. "It's something we have been training for individually, for a while, but it's great to bring it all together and see all the pieces work. We enjoy working together and perfecting our craft."

Halyburton is the second oldest commissioned frigate in the U.S. Navy behind the esteemed sailing frigate USS Constitution.  While Halyburton is scheduled for decommissioning after this deployment, she is ready for action.

"As we set out on USS Halyburton's final deployment, it is an honor to be the command master chief that will write the final chapter of her career," said Command Master Chief Lee Friedlander. "Over the last 30 years, she has served us well; taken our Sailors into harms way, protected our seas, trained our Sailors and returned them safely home to their loved ones. Our crew is trained and ready to fight - from the engineers that maintain a 30-year-old propulsion plant, to our combat systems team that flawlessly provides communications, navigation and coordination to our VBSS team, boat crew, crew serve weapons and bridge watch teams, which have all trained together and are 100 percent ready to carry out and complete the mission."

 Friedlander stated the crew will continue to maintain and care for their beloved ship, and send her ashore with full honors. His final statement was a shout out to his Sailors, "Thank you Shipmates, it's a true honor to be serving with you."

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet provide a sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions in support of U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations.