USS Lassen joins Operation Martillo

U.S. Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) arrived in the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations to begin conducting counter illicit trafficking operations in support of Operation Martillo, March 2.

Operation Martillo (Spanish for “hammer”) is a U.S., European and Western Hemisphere partner-nation effort launched in January 2012 targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus.

USS Lassen recently concluded its ten-year forward deployment to Yokosuka, Japan, as it left Japan on January 6, 2016 for its new homeport in Mayport, Florida.

The ship also made headlines with its South China Sea patrols as it was the first ship to challenge Chinese territorial claims in the area. In October 2015, Chinese media and officials claimed USS Lassen sailed within 12 nautical miles off Zhubi Reef of the Nansha Islands in the Spratly Islands territory.

Lassen is now part of Operation Martillo, an international, interagency operation that includes the participation of 14 countries committed to a regional approach against transnational criminal organizations moving illicit cargo. To date, partner nation efforts have contributed to 57 percent of all disruptions to illicit trafficking and 60 percent of the metric tons captured as part of the Operation Martillo initiative.

Commander Robert Francis, commanding officer, USS Lassen, said: “We have been planning and training for this deployment for well over the past year. The entire crew is thrilled to be a key asset in counter illicit trafficking.”