Coast Guard Technology, Teamwork Sinks Smugglers

Lockheed Martin’s C4ISR system aids Coast Guard in seizing 15,000 pounds of cocaine in the Caribbean


file The Coast Guard, with the aid of a C-130 equipped with Lockheed Martin’s C4ISR mission pallet, recently seized 15,000 pounds of cocaine valued at $180 million off the Honduran coast and bound for the United States.

The U.S. Coast Guard faces the daunting task of keeping pace with drug traffickers, who are using more sophisticated ways to smuggle illicit cargo into the country.  In July, the Coast Guard used the latest technology and old-fashioned coordination to sink a plan to smuggle 15,000 pounds of cocaine valued at $180 million into the United States.

A Coast Guard C-130 equipped with the Lockheed Martin-developed Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) mission pallet spotted a suspicious vessel off Honduras’ Caribbean coast. The crew notified a U.S. Customs and Border Protection airplane, which located a Self Propelled Semi-Submersible (SPSS) and alerted the Coast Guard Cutter Seneca.

Coast Guard offloads 7.5 tons of cocaine from drug sub

With Coast Guard and Customs aircraft providing positioning information and communications assistance, a Seneca-based helicopter and pursuit boat caught the SPSS. As the vessel sank, the Coast Guard recovered some cocaine and detained the suspects. Over the next several weeks, the Seneca and several other Coast Guard cutters searched for the sunken SPSS, which was located by the Oak. Honduran Navy and FBI dive teams then retrieved the remaining cocaine.

“This is a text book example of exceptional planning, coordination and execution with command and control from Miami and Key West, fixed-wing support from our Maritime Patrol Aircraft and cooperation from our international partners in Honduras,” said Seneca Commander Charles Fosse. “It was a team effort across the board.”

Less than 100 feet long and capable of carrying up to five crewmembers and 10 tons of drugs as far as 5,000 miles, smugglers regularly use SPSSs in the eastern Pacific. SPSSs are designed to rapidly sink when they are detected, making contraband recovery difficult. This was the first SPSS interdiction in the Caribbean and the first underwater drug removal from an SPSS.

In addition to making the C-130 airframe, Lockheed Martin develops and integrates the C4ISR systems for the Coast Guard’s aviation and National Security Cutter assets. The C4ISR system’s interoperability helps ensure that the Coast Guard’s air and sea assets can work with other agencies and organizations.

For more information on the drug seizure, please visit the U.S. Coast Guard’s website.