The continued operation of two relatively new US naval vessels has helped bolster the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) to combat maritime drug trafficking and monitor Russian maritime influence, which SOUTHCOM has identified in its recently released 2020 Posture Statement as major maritime security threats for the command’s area of responsibilities.
One of the ships is the Littoral Combat Ship USS Little Rock (LCS 9), which left its Mayport, Florida, homeport on 6 February to join SOUTHCOM, replacing USS Detroit (LCS-7), which was deployed to the region from October 2019 until early this year, returning to Mayport on 2 February.
The Freedom-variant Little Rock is expected to conduct operations in support of the multinational Campaign Martillo targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along Central America, the US Navy explained in a 6 February press release.
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