Wednesday, October 08, 2008

USS Farragut Returns to Homeport, End of Deployment

By Lt. Jacob Steele, Destroyer Squadron 40 Public Affairs

U.S. Army Helicopter Black Hawk hovers above the guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99) to perform a fast rope exercise as part of Fuerzas Alidas (FA) PANAMAX 2008. FA PANAMAX is an annual U.S. Southern Command joint and multi-national training exercise co-sponsored with the Government of Panama tailored to the defense of the Panama Canal. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Shanika L. Futrell/Released)

USS Farragut (DDG-99) returned to her homeport at Naval Station Mayport Oct. 5 after a six-month deployment with Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 40 in support of Partnership of the Americas 2008 (POA 08).

Farragut departed Mayport April 7 on the first leg of their route to circumnavigate South America.

In Rio, Farragut participated with DESRON 40 ship USS Kauffman (FFG-59) and embarked Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 42, Detachment 7 as well as USS George Washington (CVN-73) in the Atlantic phase of the multinational UNITAS exercise.

Other important components of the Partnership of the Americas engagement were the theater security cooperation (TSC) missions, which Farragut conducted in each one of the 13 ports she visited during the deployment. TSC missions feature subject-matter-expert exchanges, distinguished visitor tours, receptions and sporting events which promote goodwill and esprit de corps between the U.S. Navy and partner nation navies.

Some of the acts of goodwill in which Farragut Sailors participated were the community relations (COMREL) projects which were a part of every TSC mission. During COMRELs, Farragut Sailors helped paint and rebuild schools, orphanages and elders' residences in 13 cities throughout the Caribbean and Central and South America.

In conjunction with the COMREL projects, Farragut distributed donated goods from Project Handclasp, an official U.S. Navy program which coordinates delivery of humanitarian, educational and goodwill material, to all 13 cities visited.

Upon completion of UNITAS Atlantic phase, Farragut conducted TSC visits in Montevideo, Uruguay, and Ushuaia, Argentina, before transiting the Straits of Magellan and entering the Pacific Ocean.

"The inland passages near the Straits of Magellan are some of the most beautiful and dangerous waters in the world," said Farragut Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Scott Dugan. "We are privileged to have sailed there and faced the challenges the climate, seas and weather the narrow passages provided for us. Few sailors in the world have gone there, and to do so for such a worthwhile purpose made it only better."

Farragut then participated in the submarine warfare exercises "EJAS Norte" (Spanish for Anti-Submarine Warfare Exercise North) with the Chilean navy and Silent Forces Exercise with Peru before pulling into port in Lima, to prepare for UNITAS Pacific phase. UNITAS Pacific included the navies of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Chile.

The ship also participated in TSC events in Cartagena, Colombia, and then moved to Colon, Panama, to participate in the largest multinational joint exercise in this hemisphere, PANAMAX, which focuses on bringing many nations together to practice defending the Panama Canal, a vital and vulnerable passage for commercial and military ships from all over the world. More than 20 nations and 35 ships participated this year.

After successfully completing PANAMAX, Farragut returned to conducting TSC missions in the Caribbean, spreading goodwill to Curacao, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia and Martinique.

Most recently, Farragut conducted 14 days of counter-illicit trafficking operations in the Caribbean in support of Joint Interagency Task Force South. On Oct. 1, Farragut intercepted a vessel with an initial tally of three metric tons of cocaine aboard.

"Interdictions such as Farragut's, which discourage cartels from shipping illicit drugs, encourage legal trade between nations, and perhaps most importantly, keep drugs off of American streets, are key to our safety as a nation and to regional stability and our ongoing cooperation with partner nations," said Capt. Rudy Laco, DESRON 40 commodore.

"As Farragut returns home to friends and family, her Sailors can look back on a deployment full of achievement, success, faith and goodwill towards all of our southern neighbors," said Dugan. "Interoperability, cooperation and partnership cannot be surged. Farragut can be proud that she has made enormous steps for the United States towards just those goals and towards ensuring stability throughout the region for years to come."

During the deployment, Farragut was under operational control of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (NAVSO)/U.S. 4th Fleet conducting TSC missions, and counter-illicit trafficking operations in the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) area of focus, which encompasses the Caribbean, Central and South America, and surrounding waters. Once Farragut returned to Mayport, U.S. 2nd Fleet took over operational control.

NAVSO, the naval component command of SOUTHCOM, directs U.S. Naval Forces operating in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions and interacts with partner nation navies within the maritime environment. Various operations include counter-illicit trafficking, theater security cooperation, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, military-to-military interaction and bilateral and multinational training.

Fourth Fleet is the numbered fleet assigned to NAVSO, exercising operational control of assigned forces in the SOUTHCOM area of focus.