The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Sioux City (LCS 11) returned to Mayport, Fla., July 30th, following its successful deployment to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations. Sioux City Blue Crew, along with the “Sea Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, Detachment 3, deployed on Mar. 31, 2021 to conduct U.S. Southern Command and Joint Interagency Task Force South’s counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean Sea. During their deployment, Sioux City, with their embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET), assisted in disrupting an estimated 2,833 kilograms of cocaine and 170 pounds of marijuana worth a combined, estimated street value of over $198 million. They also removed 18 suspected drug traffickers from the narcotics trade.
“I am incredibly proud of the Sailors of Sioux City,” said Cmdr. Wade Smith, Commanding Officer of Sioux City Blue Crew. “This was the maiden deployment for Blue Crew and whether we were conducting counter-narcotics operations, or training with our partners, this crew was ready to execute any mission when called upon. We are honored to have been part of maintaining security and stability in U.S. 4th Fleet.”
Sioux City traveled over 16,000 nautical miles during the deployment, visiting five different ports. Sioux City conducted five bilateral maritime exercises with Jamaica, France, and the Dominican Republic to strengthen partnerships and build interoperability between forces. The ship participated in a training exercise with USS Wichita (LCS 13) and USS Billings (LCS 15), marking the first time three Freedom-variant LCS ships have been deployed and operating together at the same time. Throughout the deployment, Sioux City partnered with other warships, as well as numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security, 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, are all playing 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.