Patrol Ship Returns After Seizing 35 Bales of Cocaine in Single Bust

Personnel assigned to the Cyclone-class patrol coastal USS Zephyr intercepted a small boat carrying 35 bales, approximately 700-1050 kg of cocaine while on a routine patrol in the Caribbean sea, Oct. 29, 2017. (U.S. Navy photo/Michael Hendricks)
The Florida Times-Union | By Joe Daraskevich

A Cyclone-class patrol ship will return home to Mayport Naval Station on Friday after a 76-day deployment in waters off the coast of Central America where it helped seize 726 kilograms of cocaine in a single drug bust late last month.

The USS Zephyr began the deployment Aug. 26 where it conducted counter illicit-trafficking operations in support of Operation Martillo -- which is Spanish for hammer.

The Zephyr and a U.S. Coast Guard vessel identified a "go fast" boat as a possible drug smuggler Oct. 29, and then found 17 bales of cocaine after boarding the vessel, according to the Navy. The personnel located another 18 bales of cocaine in the water near the stopped boat.

Authorities estimate the drugs are worth about $17 million to $26 million on the street, according to the Navy. Three people were detained after the seizure.

The Zephyr uses a small inflatable boat to deploy Coast Guard law enforcement teams to intercept the boat, according to the Navy.

"The Zephyr crew was not deterred in the least by a record-setting 76 day patrol," said Lt. Cmdr. Grant Greenwell, commanding officer of the ship. "The team volunteered liberty time in San Juan, Puerto Rico to help offload supplies destined for Hurricane Maria victims. This crew inspires and motivates me daily. We may be one tenth the size of a destroyer and one tenth the crew, but we have ten times the heart."

The deployment was the longest one for the Zephyr since it changed its home port to Mayport.

--This article is written by Joe Daraskevich from The Florida Times-Union and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to