The frigate USS Gary (FFG-51) returned to its San Diego homeport on Friday for the last time, after completing a seven-month deployment to the U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command area of operations.
Gary had been participating in the anti-drug Operation Martillo with the embarked Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) 49 Detachment 4 and a U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachment. The ship will now begin preparations for decommissioning later this year.
Gary is one of the last frigates in service and was the last West Coast frigate to remain on deployment. They will all be decommissioned this year, with eight of the nine set to be sold to foreign militaries.
“This has been a very successful deployment in many regards, a deployment I would refer to as a ‘strong finish’ for the last remaining west coast frigate in the fleet,” Gary commanding officer Cmdr. Steven McDowell said in a Navy statement.
“When we departed for this deployment our intent was to make a difference, and we did.”
During its deployment, the frigate participated in more than 70 small boat operations and coordinated with U.S. Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), U.S. and Canadian warships and Coast Guard ships from the United States, Panama, Colombia, Costa Rica and Ecuador. Gary’s crew interdicted 13,921 kilograms of cocaine and 18 pounds of marijuana.
The deployment was also the last active-duty one for the SH-60B Seahawk, the helicopter used by HSM 49 to help find and stop drug runners. The detachment returned to Naval Air Station North Island after flying more than 700 hours during the deployment, and the Navy will host a sundown ceremony for the platform on May 11.