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Navy ship on 7-month drug-fighting mission

Picture_6_r420x280By Tristan Nichols UT SanDiego

SAN DIEGO — The frigate Rentz left San Diego Naval Base on Thursday for a seven-month deployment to the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean. The crew’s mission is to target drug traffickers as part of the multination Operation Martillo.

Cmdr. Lance Lantier, commanding officer of the Rentz, said his crew’s mission is to counter the flow of narcotics into the United States, and to increase maritime security and stability in the region by also targeting and disrupting human trafficking.

“It’s a very good mission, and we’re very good at it,” said Lantier, who added that this was the second time the ship had deployed to the region for this role. “It’s an extremely busy stretch of water.”

The drug interdiction team on board the Rentz includes the “Visit, Board, Search and Seizure” team, which will provide support for the Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment.

The Rentz will also be supported by Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 49, based at North Island Naval Air Station.

As well as targeting drug runners in the waterways, the Rentz will also take part in the annual multinational UNITAS maritime exercise in September.

This exercise will be conducted in the Southern Caribbean off the coast of Colombia with naval forces from Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, the United Kingdom and Canada.

Estibaliz Stommel — whose husband, Craig, works in the Rentz’s control room — said despite this being his third deployment, the family never gets used to him being away.

“It gets harder and harder each time,” said Stommel, a mother of three.

“Today is an emotional time. Seven months will go quick, but it’s hard. You have the children asking about their daddy and you don’t know what to tell them, other than he’s on the ship and that he’s doing his job.”

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