by Christopher G. Thien


Fort Wayne Sailor Phillip C. Mertes and the crew of USS McCampbell – (DDG-85) assisted in the seizure of 1.36 metric tons of cocaine from a sailing vessel off the coast of Central America during a recent counter-drug operations deployment.

Petty Officer 1st Class Mertes, the 28-year-old son of John Mertes of Fort Wayne, is an administrative assistant on board McCampbell. “I am responsible for all duties related to the admin department,” Mertes said.

Mertes and the crew of McCampbell put skills they have learned in the Navy to the test when they were dispatched to stop and board the suspected Canadian-flagged “Sin Rumbo.” They secured and assisted in the search of the vessel when the cocaine was discovered in a hidden hold on the vessel. The illegal cargo and the vessel’s master were detained and removed to McCampbell to be handed over to appropriate law enforcement officials.

After further discussions with the same authorities, McCampbell was given permission to sink the vessel, using the destroyer’s Mk-45 5-inch/62-caliber gun system, in order to keep the area sea-lanes safe and clear.

“We all did great,” said Mertes, a nine-year Navy veteran. McCampbell’s crew, the ship’s anti-submarine helicopters, and a detachment of law enforcement officials assigned to the Coast Guard worked together in the drug-seizure operation. “The Navy has shown its force and its power,” Mertes said.

Mertes and the crew aboard McCampbell will continue to grow and work together sharpening their professional skills and dedication to duty to answer whatever call they receive, whether it is the war against drugs or the global war on terrorism.

(Thien is a Navy journalist assigned to the USS Belleau Wood, homeported at Naval Station, San Diego.)

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