SAN DIEGO - The guided-missile frigate USS Thach left Naval Base San Diego Tuesday for a six-month deployment to the Central American region.
The Thach and its crew of 220 sailors will spend the deployment patrolling for drug traffickers and other illegal activities, according to Naval Surface Forces' public affairs office.
"It is a challenging mission to say the least but we are well-trained and looking forward to contributing to the effort of stopping drug smugglers on the high seas," said Cmdr. Hans Lynch, the Thach's commanding officer.
A group of U.S. Coast Guard members trained to intercept maritime smugglers will be aboard the Thach as part of a partnership between the two federal agencies.
"We're just going to take a look at them, we're going to do a 'right of approach' warning, we're going to go see what their flags look like and see if anything smells funny," said Lynch.
Lynch told a local TV station that "we're expecting to interdict a lot of drugs."
The USS Curts, also a guided-missile frigate, returned from a similar deployment last month after arresting three suspected drug traffickers and seizing 2,200 pounds of illegal narcotics.
The 453-foot-long Thach is named for 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.