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The Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 50 work together to intercept a self-propelled semi-submersible drug smuggling vessel (SPSS), in the Atlantic Ocean, March 22, 2024. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

The Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 50 work together to intercept a self-propelled semi-submersible drug smuggling vessel (SPSS), in the Atlantic Ocean, March 22, 2024. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

U.S. Forces Take Down Narco Sub in Atlantic Ocean

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 36643
April 8, 2024

A specialized U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement unit embarked on USS Leyte Gulf, a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser, successfully intercepted and seized a semi-submersible vessel carrying thousands of pounds of cocaine in the U.S. Southern Command’s operational area.

The intercept took place in March after the crew of the USS Leyte Gulf detected a self-propelled semi-submersible drug smuggling vessel (SPSS) while patrolling the Atlantic Ocean.

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) launched a rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) to intercept the vessel, leading to the detention of the individuals aboard and the seizure of approximately 2,370 kilograms of cocaine.

The Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 50 work together to intercept a self-propelled semi-submersible drug smuggling vessel (SPSS), in the Atlantic Ocean, March 22, 2024. U.S. Coast Guard Photo
The Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) intercepts a self-propelled semi-submersible drug smuggling vessel (SPSS), in the Atlantic Ocean, March 22, 2024. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

Lt. Commander Travis Lee, Leyte Gulf’s senior aviator, praised the team’s effort, stating that spotting the vessel was like finding a needle in a haystack. “I’ve been doing this for seven years and not once been able to find and acquire such an asset until now,” he said.

The operation follows a series of successful drug busts for the crew of the USS Leyte Gulf. In February, while patrolling the Caribbean Sea, the ship intercepted three different vessels. These operations involved both U.S. and partner nation forces and led to the recovery of a total of 1,720 kilograms of cocaine worth an estimated $43.05 million.

“Our Leyte Gulf team was ready when called upon to execute all three interdictions,” said Commanding Officer Capt. Nathan Diaz. “The successful seizure of more than $42 million in illicit drugs is a testament to the interoperability of our partner nations, the Coast Guard and the Leyte Gulf team.”

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