Military Capabilities

SOUTHCOM’s drug interdiction operations will be boosted by LCS USS Detroit

18 November 2019

The Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship USS Detroit (LCS 7) departs Naval Station Mayport, Florida. Source: US Navy

US Southern Command's (SOUTHCOM) counter-narcotic operations in Latin America and the Caribbean will be strengthened by the addition of USS Detroit (LCS 7), a Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) that joined the command in November.

Detroit departed on 31 October from Mayport, Florida, to start its SOUTHCOM operations by participating in Operation 'Martillo', which is a multinational effort established in 2012 aimed at helping combat drug trafficking throughout Central American and Caribbean waters.

Detroit , which carries a MH-60S Seahawk helicopter and two MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Vehicles is the first LCS deployed to support 'Martillo' - and the second Freedom (LCS) variant deployed to the region. The first deployment was USS Freedom (LCS 1) in 2010.

"The Littoral Combat Ship is mission-fit for this region," Admiral Craig Faller, SOUTHCOM commander, said in his February 2019 posture statement.

To monitor its large maritime area and combat crimes such as drug trafficking, SOUTHCOM has lobbied for additional naval assets, including the unsuccessful re-activation of USN Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates. Currently, Detroit is the only USN ship assigned to US Fourth Fleet.

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