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FFG's counterdrug deployment restored after budget reshuffle

Jul. 14, 2013 - 09:30AM   |  
The frigate Rentz will head to U.S. Southern Command in August. Its April deployment to the region was called off because of budget cuts.
The frigate Rentz will head to U.S. Southern Command in August. Its April deployment to the region was called off because of budget cuts. (AN Maebel Y. Tinoko / Navy)
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The San Diego-based frigate Rentz will deploy to U.S. Southern Command in August for six months to participate in Operation Martillo, a multinational counterdrug operation, Navy officials confirmed July 5 — reinstating a deployment that had been canceled because of budget cuts.

The ship was originally slated to deploy to SOUTHCOM in April; that was one of 13 deployments called off by the fleet as a way to deal with across-the-board cuts triggered by sequestration.

Rentz’s deployment is the only previously canceled trip that’s been rescheduled. Two months ago, Navy officials told Navy Times they were re-evaluating all canceled deployments because the cuts weren’t quite as deep as they initially thought, although they didn’t provide new budget numbers.

“What we’re doing is walking our way back through all of the combatant commanders with the original global force management allocation plan,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert said May 3. “We’ll restore those that we can.”

Budget cuts hit SOUTHCOM and 4th Fleet hard — initially, all surface-ship deployments to Central and South America, both for Operation Martillo and the Southern Partnership Station, were canceled or cut short for the remainder of fiscal 2013.

There have been no Navy surface assets in SOUTHCOM since May 23, when the high-speed vessel Swift completed a four-month Southern Partnership Station deployment. It’s the first time in decades, officials said, that no Navy surface ships were actively involved in anti-drug patrols under SOUTHCOM.

Navy-supported counterdrug detection and monitoring flights out of Comalapa, El Salvador, have continued to support Operation Martillo. A detachment from the Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii-based Patrol Squadron 47, the “Red Lancers,” are doing that mission.

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