The USS Gabrielle Giffords patrols near a Chinese vessel in the South China Sea in July 2020. Navy photo

The littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords returned to Naval Base San Diego on Sunday after a 17-month deployment with rotating crews.

The warship, which is a trimaran variant of the littoral series, completed freedom-of-navigation patrols with the 7th fleet in the South China Sea and counter-narcotics missions with an embarked Coast Guard detachment in the 4th Fleet area of the eastern Pacific.

In December, the Navy reported the ship intercepted a low-profile smuggling boat, seizing an estimated 2,810 kilograms of cocaine valued at $106 million.

“I am incredibly proud of the Gabrielle Giffords team and all they have accomplished,” said Cmdr. Rion Martin, the ship’s commanding officer. “This dynamic team of sailors, coast guardsmen and Marines demonstrated sustained superior performance with physical, mental and emotional toughness while executing a range of maritime operations. ”

Littoral combat ships are fast, stealthy surface vessels capable of operating in the littoral regions of the world. The 400-foot-long ships carry a main cannon, missiles and two helicopters.

Over a dozen of the new warships will ultimately be based in San Diego.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.