SAN DIEGO - The guided-missile frigate USS Thach returned to its San Diego home port Friday following an independent deployment that was nearly halved by sequestration budget cuts.
The vessel had been operating off Central and South America to counter drug smuggling.
"It's a bittersweet feeling to return home early from deployment,' said Cmdr. Hans Lynch, the commanding officer. "Our counter-narcotics mission is valuable to the U.S. and our partner nations, but I'm glad that we are all able to reunite with our loved ones back here in San Diego."
Sailors and a U.S. Coast Guard detachment on the vessel, which departed San Diego Jan. 8, seized nearly 836 pounds of cocaine and more than 1,110 pounds of marijuana, with an estimated street value of more than $10 million.
The crew of 220 also refurbished books and delivered them to an elementary school in Panama.
The Thach and several other vessels were ordered home by the Navy March 22, and deployments scheduled to begin this month for the frigate USS Rentz and submarine USS Jefferson City were canceled.
The 453-foot-long Thach is named for the late Admiral John S. "Jimmy" Thach, a Navy aviator during World War II.
Thach was stationed in San Diego when he invented a dogfighting tactic known as the Thach Weave. The tactic, which involves two or more fighter pilots working together to cross paths two or more times in order to turn the tables on an enemy attack, allowed Navy pilots overcome the maneuverability advantage of Japanese aircraft.
The USS Thach was the spotlight of an AFP report on counter drug smuggling operations. Watch the video below:
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