April 13 (UPI) — The USS Freedom returned from its final deployment Monday, the Navy announced.
The vessel, which was the Navy’s first littoral combat ship, was deployed to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission to counter illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific, according to a Navy press release.
“The crew of Freedom delivered tremendous operational success and highlighted the adaptability and versatility of littoral combat ships during a successful deployment to U.S. 4th Fleet,” Capt. Jack Fay, commodore of Littoral Combat Ship Squadron One, said in the Navy’s release.
“As the Navy’s first LCS, USS Freedom paved the way for the class and introduced a unique set of capabilities to the waterfront. Much of what Freedom Sailors accomplished during the ship’s commissioned service will be leveraged by LCS crews around the globe for years to come,” Fay said.
Before returning to Naval Base San Diego, the crew of Freedom worked with a detachment from Helicopter Sea Combat squadron 23 and a Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment to complete joint operations in support of counter-illicit trafficking, the Navy said.
Freedom disrupted more than 2,000 kilograms and 3,895 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated street value of more than $111 million, the Navy said.
Most recently, the team aboard Freedom, which included both Coast Guard and Navy personnel, seized more than 1,500 kilograms of cocaine off the coast of Mexico last week.
The Freedom also held passing exercises with the navies of El Salvador and Guatemala in January to improve regional readiness.
In July of last year, the Navy announced it would retire the USS Freedom, along with Independence, Fort Worth and Coronado, at the end of March in order to save on modernization efforts.
The vessels were the service’s first four littoral combat ships, and one — the Coronado — was commissioned in 2014.
In January, the Navy halted receipt of other Freedom-class littoral combat ships from Lockheed Martin, citing a major design flaw in the combining gear of the ship’s transmission.