MAYPORT, Fla. –
The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Wichita (LCS 13) returned to Mayport, Fla., on Oct. 21st following her second successful deployment to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations.
Wichita, along with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28 Detachment 6, deployed in March 2022 to support U.S. Southern Command objectives and Joint Interagency Task Force South’s counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean Sea.
During the deployment, Wichita, HSC 28 Detachment 6, and embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments 104, 107, and 108 integrated seamlessly as one team to disrupt an estimated 4,520 kilograms of cocaine worth an estimated street value of $316 million and removed 20 suspected drug traffickers from the illicit narcotics trade.
“It has been a tremendous honor to command this amazing crew on an incredibly successful deployment,” said Capt. Eric Meyers, Wichita’s commanding officer. “The Wichita team excelled by working with our partner nations, strengthening our interoperability, and taking narcotics off the streets. We look forward to the continued success of our fellow Freedom-variant crews deploying to support this critical mission area.”
Wichita conducted bilateral maritime exercises with the Dominican Republic Navy and conducted Deck Landing Qualifications with U.S. Army pilots assigned to Joint Task Force Bravo in Honduras to strengthen partnerships and build interoperability between forces. During a port visit to Cartagena, Colombia, Wichita’s crew hosted the Colombian Chief of Naval Operations along with other senior members of the Colombian Navy to showcase Wichita’s capabilities and discuss the continued partnership and commitment shared between our two countries.
Throughout the deployment, Wichita partnered with other U.S. Navy warships as well as numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security in efforts to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, Customs and Border Protection, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with allied and international partner agencies, all play a role in counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean Sea.
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 regions.
LCS is a fast, agile, mission-focused platform designed for operation in near-shore environments yet is capable of open-ocean operation. It is designed to defeat asymmetric "anti-access" threats and is capable of supporting forward presence, maritime security, sea control, and deterrence objectives.