USS Chafee crew intercepts 827 kilograms of cocaine

Fire Controlman 3rd Class Aubrey Henderson, assigned to USS Chafee (DDG 90), climbs down the pilot’s ladder into a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) during boat operations. Chafee is deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of responsibility in support of UNITAS 2017. Photo by MC2 Michael Hendricks

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs

The Pearl Harbor-based Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, USS Chafee (DDG 90), seized more than 800 kilograms of illicit narcotics, Aug. 2, off the coast of Central America.

While conducting a routine patrol in the U.S. 4th Fleet area of responsibility, a Sikorsky MH-60R multi-mission helicopter from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 37, embarked in Chafee, sighted a small boat with three passengers and two outboard engines.

The pilots determined the vessel’s characteristics met the description of vessels that frequently traffic narcotics in Central and South America and investigated further. As the helicopter approached the small craft, the passengers began jettisoning the boat’s contents. The helicopter crew identified 37 bales of an unknown substance, and coordinated with the ship that deployed the small boat crew utilizing a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) to recover the floating packages.

Once the bales were on board, Chafee’s Command Master-at-Arms confirmed the substance was cocaine.

“This would have been impossible without the vigilance of the ship’s crew, the aviation department and the maintainers that allow the aircraft to operate on time,” he said. “The crew worked incredibly together, utilizing multiple facets of our capabilities to achieve this success.”

During the recovery, the ship’s crew also discovered a solar-powered GPS tracking buoy attached to the bales of narcotics.

“Every member aboard Chafee performed superbly during this mission,” said Chafee’s RHIB boat officer during the recovery. “Knowing our efforts translate to real successes by disrupting illicit drug trafficking, reinforces our mission and provides a sense of self-worth for the entire crew.”

Chafee turned over custody of the narcotics to the U.S. Coast Guard.

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