Navy’s U.S.S. Billings Helps Nab 630 Kilos of Cocaine at Sea
My Facebook algorithm must have known I was near the ocean last week while we were on vacation because my feed typically doesn't contain much news from the Caribbean. So when a news article about the U.S.S. Billings popped up about a big drug bust off the coast of the Dominican Republic, I gave it a click. I mean, everybody loves a good cocaine story, right?
According to the report by news outlet The Virgin Island Consortium, the drug interdiction occurred back in September of 2022. A Nicaraguan man was finally formally charged on April 3, 2023. The details of the encounter mimic any movie or documentary you've seen about drug runners.
The cocaine "go-fast vessel" was first spotted by air, as the speedboat skimmed across the sea 80 miles north of the Dominican Republic, according to the report. The U.S.S. Billings was then called in to go take a peek at the suspicious boat. A surprise visit from Uncle Sam, if you will.
Imagine the look of surprise on the drug runners' faces.
Long story short, the two dudes on the boat were apprehended by the U.S.S. Billings, a Freedom-class littoral combat ship (LCS) of the United States Navy. It was named after the city of Billings and was commissioned on August 3, 2019. The ship's primary mission is to conduct surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and mine countermeasures operations in littoral or coastal areas. The drug mules stood no chance. Upon boarding their little speedboat, 630 kilos of cocaine bales were quickly discovered. That is 1,388 pounds of coke! Dang.
The craft is an absolute beast.
The ship is equipped with advanced technology and weaponry, including a 57mm Mk 110 gun, a SeaRAM missile defense system, and a variety of unmanned aerial and underwater vehicles. Its advanced communication and sensor systems make it a formidable force in any maritime environment.
The newspaper reported that multiple agencies are investigating the drug bust, including the United States Coast Guard, Homeland Security Investigations, and Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant United States Attorney Evan Rikhye is prosecuting the case.