Local May 25, 2021 | 9:41 am

US-Dominican Republic joint exercise targets drug trafficking

CARIBBEAN SEA.-The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Sioux City (LCS 11) and the Dominican Republic Navy conducted a bi-lateral interdiction exercise in the Caribbean Sea, May 23.

During the exercise, forces worked together to find, track and intercept a simulated drug smuggling vessel and practiced a series of tactical shipboard movements, formations, and vectoring. They also tested maritime command and control capabilities.

Sioux City deployed her 11-meter rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) and MH-60S Sea hawk attached to the “Sea Knights” of Helicopter Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, while the Dominican Navy participated with Coastal Patrol Vessels Orion (GC 109) and Betelgeuse (GC 102).

The training helped to improve interoperability and demonstrate the strategic partnership with the Dominican Republic that helps facilitate conducting naval operations against emerging threats in the region.

“Our consistent presence here in 4th Fleet is vital to combating illegal drug trafficking,” said Cmdr. Wade Smith, commanding officer of Sioux City. “Being able to conduct coordinated interdiction training with our partners in the Dominican Republic helps us all to be more prepared to execute the mission and support our goal of keeping these waters safe for all who navigate them.”

Bi-lateral engagements allow both navies to strengthen tactical readiness for future operations, maintain readiness at sea, and support continued commitment to security and stability in the region.

Orion and Betelgeuse previously conducted a bi-lateral maritime exercise with USS Wichita (LCS 13) March 24: https://www.dvidshub.net/news/392355/wichita-conducts-bi-lateral-exercise-with-dominican-republic

Sioux City is deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes counter illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command’s joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American region.

–USS Sioux City Recovers an 11-Meter Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boat after Completing a Bi-Lateral Maritime Interdiction Exercise. Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Marianne Guemo.

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