The U.S. Navy Cyclone-class patrol ship USS Tornado (PC 14) returned to Mayport, Florida, May 13, following a 68-day counter-narcotics patrol in the U.S. 4th Fleet area of responsibility.
Tornado contributed to Joint Interagency Task Force South’s disruption of more than 35,000 kilograms of cocaine and almost 4,000 pounds of marijuana. This led to keeping an estimated wholesale price of 716 million dollars’ worth of drugs off U.S. streets.
“This was truly a team effort,” said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Stueber, USS Tornado Commanding Officer “We worked with an outstanding embarked Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET), which was critical to our success.”
USS Tornado’s small size makes it capable of navigating into shallow waters as well as working with partner nation coast guards closer to shore than other U.S. ships.
“Our ship is able to navigate into the littorals, and that allows us a unique opportunity to operate with our partner nations’ coast guards, specifically in Central America,” said Stueber. “
Just as Tornado deployed, the crew adjusted quickly to the new COVID-19 environment. Tornado’s crew met the changes in guidance and procedures due to the pandemic, safeguarding Sailors while still meeting counter-drug mission requirements.
“USS Tornado performed exceptionally well,” said Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, Commander U.S. 4th Fleet. They took steps to protect the crew from COVID-19 and made big contributions in a challenging environment – contributing to the disruption of the transport of over $700 million of illegal narcotics without missing a beat.”
“USS Tornado had an exciting deployment in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific, with two Panama Canal transits,” said Rear Adm. Gabrielson. “Tornado’s small but mighty team made a huge impact. We look forward to the ship’s next patrol.”
On April 1, U.S. Southern Command began enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to disrupt the flow of drugs in support of Presidential National Security Objectives.
Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security cooperated in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with allied and international partner agencies, play a role in counter-drug operations.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command’s joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American region.
Story by Lewis. L Preddy, U.S. 4th Fleet