By NAVSOUTH Public Affairs
June 21, 2000, Eastern Pacific Ocean (NNS) -- The guided missile frigate USS SAMUEL ELIOT MORISON (FFG 13) and embarked Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) seized just over five tons of cocaine on the high seas in separate actions over the past two weeks.
Operating as part of a Federal Joint Interagency Task Force, USS SAMUEL ELIOT MORISON's surface, air and law enforcement team has been aggressively tracking, pursuing and seizing illegal narcotic shipments as part of their five-month deployment to U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command headquartered at Naval Station, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico.
The first incident, which netted nearly a ton of cocaine from a fast-boat, occurred in late May off the coast of Colombia. In this case, a small craft, better known as a "go- fast," dumped 28 bales of narcotics into the sea while under close pursuit from the ship and embarked "Seahawk" helicopter of Helicopter Squadron Light (HSL) 94.
Lieutenant Commander Lew Wright, USS SAMUEL ELIOT MORISON's executive officer, remarked that the evolution "was a real demonstration of teamwork, particularly in retrieving a long string of contraband spread out for about two miles, marked by smoke floats from one end to another."
Wright continued, "The helicopter was working the far end picking up bales with its grappling hook while we had our RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) picking up bales at our end."
The second incident, in early June, resulted in the seizure of over four tons of cocaine from yet another "go-fast," which was detained, searched and seized.
USS SAMUEL ELIOT MORISON, based in Mayport, Fla., is in the last month of the deployment to the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean. In addition to counter drug operations, the crew has been actively engaged in U.S. forward presence missions, humanitarian assistance operations and a variety of other roles in support of U.S. foreign policy in the region. The ship is due to return to homeport in late June.