The U.S. announced on Friday that the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94) returned to their homeport of Naval Station Norfolk following the ship’s deployment to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations, Sept. 18.
Nitze, along with a detachment from the “Jaguars” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 60 (HSM 60), deployed in June 2020 to conduct U.S. Southern Command and Joint Interagency Task Force South’s enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean Sea and Eastern Pacific Ocean.
During their deployment, Nitze, with their embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET), disrupted over 3,900 kilograms of suspected cocaine and 6,100 pounds of suspected marijuana, worth over an estimated wholesale value of $102 million.
“The success of this deployment was truly a team effort. We could not have done it without the teamwork of our Sailors and embarked Coast Guardsmen working together daily for a common cause. I am truly proud of their effort, said Cmdr. Donald Curran, Nitze’s commanding officer. “We thank our Nitze families and friends whose unwavering support made this deployment possible and we are looking forward to being back home.”
With the deployment conducted in a COVID-19 environment, the primary focus of ship’s leadership was crew safety.
“We made sure to exercise all precautions before the start of the deployment,” said Cmdr. Sam Sareini, Nitze’s executive officer. “I credit our Sailors for understanding the gravity of the pandemic, and their work in Fourth Fleet set a high bar for all future deployments.”
“Each ship that has operated in the U.S. 4th Fleet AOR has represented the best our Navy has to offer and I am proud of their resiliency, professionalism and more importantly their sense of service and duty,” said Capt. Tom Myers, commodore Destroyer Squadron Four Three. “Because of them, as a force, we have been able to advance our goals significantly as it relates to counter-narcotics operations and other maritime missions. We continue to operate at a high level in spite of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Nitze joined other U.S. Navy warships, numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security cooperating 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.