Homecoming: USS Tornado returns from counter-narcotics deployment

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Mayport-based patrol ship USS Tornado is returned to base Tuesday morning after a three-month deployment -- its second during the pandemic.

The USS Tornado, with 40 men and women aboard, had been in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific, working to stop drug trafficking since Aug. 13.

Ready for action!!! The Cyclone-class coastal patrol ship USS Tornado (PC 14) conducts a man overboard drill Sept. 16,...

Posted by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet on Friday, September 18, 2020

During deployment, the crew captured more than $50 million worth of cocaine and its smugglers.

“I can’t speak to the number of the detainees at this time because it’s an ongoing case, but it’s a pretty cool accomplishment to get that amount of drugs off the street and stop that from entering,” USS Tornado Lieutenant Commander Graham Vanhook said.

The ship also became the first Navy patrol ship to travel through South American waters in more than 20 years.

“It was pretty neat for a ship this size and this class,” Lt. Cmdr. Vanhook said.

The Tornado’s deployment also marked another noteworthy record; It was the first time all three of Mayport’s coast patrol ships were deployed at the same time.

Making the occasion more special, this mission will be among the USS Tornado’s last. The ship is to be decommissioned in March 2021.

“This whole class is the best. It gives an opportunity for sailors to cross rate and get experience they normally wouldn’t have on a bigger ship. No matter how many days we have left, we’re going to soak it up and try to get the most out of it at all times,” he said.

However, Lt. Cmdr. Vanhook is happy to be back on land with his family.

“Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!" his son said excitedly as his father approached.

In addition to Tornado’s homecoming, Tuesday also marked the Navy’s 245th birthday.

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