Littoral Combat Ship USS Sioux City Joins SOUTHCOM Anti-Drug Mission in First Deployment

September 1, 2020 2:42 PM
Information Specialist 1st Class Matthew Stephenson mans the lines as the Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Sioux City (LCS-11) gets underway on Aug. 30, 2020. US Navy Photo

USS Sioux City (LCS-11) deployed over the weekend to U.S. Southern Command to aid in conducting counter-narcotic missions, the Navy recently announced.

Sioux City, a Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship commissioned in 2018, will have a Coast Guard law enforcement detachment (LEDET) aboard, in addition to an MQ-8B Fire Scout and MH-60S helicopter for aerial missions.

Sioux City’s operations will involve practical exercises and exchanges with partner nations, supporting U.S. 4th Fleet interoperability and reinforcing the U.S. position as the regional partner of choice,” according to a service press release.

The deployment comes as the Trump administration has ramped up warship presence in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific to help perform counter-narcotic missions. USNI News in July reported that the Navy had more of a warship presence in the region in the preceding three months than it had since 2015.

Several destroyers have operated in the 4th Fleet area of responsibility as part of the administration’s initiative to seize drugs bound for the United States.

Vice Adm. Steven Poulin, Coast Guard Atlantic Area commander, in an interview with USNI News earlier this summer cited helicopters as a platform that aids in conducting counter-narcotics operations.

USS Sioux City (LCS-11) arrives at its homeport in Mayport, Fla, on Nov. 21, 2018. US Navy Photo

“It starts with a ship, and then it starts with a law enforcement detachment on board. The more law enforcement detachment you get out there, the better able you are to do the actual end game of interdiction,” Poulin said at the time.
“It also includes getting helicopters, more helicopters on the flight decks of the assets that are now in there, including precision marksman on those helicopters. And that’s what we’re doing,” he added.

The Navy last year dispatched USS Detroit (LCS-7), another Freedom-variant LCS, to Southern Command for its first deployment. Detroit also had a Coast Guard LEDET team, an MQ-8B Fire Scout and an MH-60S helicopter to help perform counter-narcotics operations.

Both Sioux City and Detroit are based out of Naval Station Mayport, Fla.

“LCS’s have amazing capabilities and are underestimated,” Sioux City’s Command Senior Chief Conrad Hunt said in the press release.
Sioux City is ready to deploy to show why the LCS program is so important to the Navy’s mission.”

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne is a reporter for USNI News. She previously covered the Navy for Inside Defense and reported on politics for The Hill.
Follow @MalShelbourne

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