SAN DIEGO - A U.S. Navy frigate whose crew seized more than 12,000 pounds of cocaine while operating off Central and South America during a six-month deployment returned to its homeport of San Diego Friday morning.
USS Gary sailors and an onboard U.S. Coast Guard detachment made the seizures -- the confiscated drugs had an estimated street value of $388 million -- in nine separate operations, according to the Navy.
Ten suspects were arrested, and four alleged drug trafficking vessels were sunk during the deployment, Navy officials said.
"I am incredibly proud of the performance of the crew of USS Gary...," said Cmdr. James Brown, the Gary's skipper. "The professionalism and dedication of everyone on board, to include our embarked helicopter detachment (Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 49, Detachment 3) and the three U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachments, is reflected in the successful interdictions and the amount of cocaine disrupted."
The sailors also helped clean and paint schools in Golfito, Costa Rica, and Panama City during the vessel's so-called independent deployment.
In February, the Navy Times reported that the Gary's executive officer, Cmdr. James Pickens, was relieved of his duties because of offensive comments and behavior toward the crew.
The USS Gary is named after the late Cmdr. Donald Gary, who was an engineering officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS Franklin when it was hit by a bomb during a Japanese air strike on March 19, 1945. Gary, who helped rescue several hundred men below deck, was awarded the Medal of Honor.