With the U.S. Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy, USS Kauffman (FFG 59) seized 1,017 kilograms of cocaine and detained eight crew members of a suspected narcotic-trafficking vessel in international waters in the Western Caribbean, Feb. 28.
The cocaine was worth an estimated wholesale value of approximately $33.9 million.
The suspected smuggling vessel was spotted during a routine patrol of Western Caribbean international waters in support of Operation Martillo.
Kauffman’s embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) boarded the freighter and seized the illicit cargo.
Aboard the vessel, the LEDET faced difficult conditions as the seas grew increasingly more violent and the vessel began to take on water. With the assistance of USCG LEDETs embarked on HMCS Goose Bay (MM 707) and HMCS Shawinigan (MM 704), Coast Guardsmen discovered illicit cargo in a hidden compartment.
Kauffman took custody of the eight crew members and narcotics found on board. A rescue and assistance team from Kauffman was sent to the smuggling vessel to make a seaworthiness assessment, to determine if the ship could be safely towed to a safe location and to aid in vessel dewatering due to a failed bilge pumping system. Detailed assessments determined that the ship posed a significant risk to personnel and that safest course of action was to scuttle the ship as a danger to navigation.
That evening, using its organic weapon systems and trained personnel, Kauffman sank the smuggling vessel off the coast of Panama.
Image: US Navy