Air delivery of cargo is routine for U.S. Navy ships

Sailor aboard ‘USNS Sacagawea’ hooks up a pallet to ‘USS Carr’s’ SH-60B helicopter during what is called a vertical replenishment. U.S. Navy photo/Billy Bernal

The U.S. Embassy said that the guided missile frigate “USS Carr” was waiting offshore for a week with the hope that Costa Rican lawmakers would approve a port visit to unload important marijuana evidence.

When lawmakers for the Partido Acción Ciudadana blocked a vote that would have approved the visit, the “Carr” was forced to leave without unloading the evidence.

At least that is the story from U.S. officials here.

However, that account is contradicted by a photo published on the U.S. Southern Command Web site. The photo shows an SH-60B helicopter from the “Carr” picking up supplies from the “USNS Sacagawea” cargo ship. The Southern Command calls this a vertical replenishment.

Spokespersons at the U.S. Embassy here were unable to say for the record why the “Carr” did not simply dispatch its helicopter to bring the marijuana evidence to Costa Rica or to drop it onto a Costa Rican coast guard boat.

Some Costa Rican law enforcement officials said that the smuggling suspects may go free without the evidence.
The “Carr’s” home port is Norfolk, Virginia. The ship is in the Caribbean in support of Operation Martillo, the multinational anti-drug effort.

The Southern Command also disclosed that the ship will be decommissioned next year.

The helicopter crew on the “Carr” spotted the marijuana smugglers some 100 miles northeast of Limón, and eventually three persons were detained by Costa Rican patrol boat crews.

Also in August, the “Carr” received repair parts from a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol P-3 Orion patrol aircraft. The parts were dropped in a sealed canister, and a rigid hull inflatable boat went to retrieve it.

While that was taking place, the Southern Command said that the helicopter crew spotted another small boat that was intercepted.

The U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment on the “Carr” boarded the vessel and seized 1,250 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of approximately $17 million, said the Southern Command.

The commanding officer of the “Carr” is Cmdr. Patrick Kulakowski, said the Southern Command on its Web site.

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