The San Diego-based guided-missile frigate USS Vandegrift, which rescued a sailing family in April, intercepted two tons of cocaine being smuggled aboard two fishing vessels off the coast of Central America, the Navy reported Wednesday.
A Coast Guard detachment on board directed the Vandegrift’s team in boarding the first fishing vessel, finding approximately 1,000 individually wrapped packages of cocaine hidden within the hull of the ship. The Vandegrift then launched a SH-60B Sea Hawk helicopter in search of additional smugglers in the area.
Within 24 hours, the ship was underway to another interception and stopped a second smuggling vessel. Hidden within the hull, the team discovered 35 large burlap sacks containing substances that tested positive for cocaine.
“After making our first drug seizure of the deployment, our team was able to quickly reset and make a second seizure the very next day,” said Lt. Cmdr. Daryl Robin, executive officer of Vandegrift. “Back-to-back busts are rare occurrences, but our team was up for the challenge and performed flawlessly.”
The first fishing vessel, which was taking on water with no functioning bilge pumps, was declared unseaworthy and was safely sunk. The second vessel was towed to Costa Rican waters and turned over to the possession of the Costa Rican Coast Guard.
In April the Vandegrift rescued a family of four who were attempting to sail around the world when their baby daughter became ill and their boat was damaged. Navy personnel pulled Charlotte and Eric Kaufman, daughter Cora, and baby Lyra, from the stricken, 36-foot Rebel Heart about 925 miles off Cabo San Lucas.
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