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USS Wichita Returns Home To Naval Station Mayport Thursday

Aerographer's Mate 1st Class Keith E. Mitchell
U.S. Navy
The USS Wichita is pictured in March during its deployment in the Caribbean Sea.

Friends, family and crew are exercising some extra patience as the USS Wichita’s return home to Mayport is delayed by Tropical Storm Elsa.

The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship was originally scheduled to return to Naval Station Mayport Wednesday but the homecoming was delayed as a safety precaution.

The Navy said the USS Wichita is now expected to arrive Thursday.

The USS Wichita’s mission has included the seizure of an estimated $17 million in drugs in March and an estimated $12 million in suspected drugs in May.

While on routine patrol, Wichita’s helicopter, assigned to the “Sea Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, Detachment 8, located a go-fast vessel of suspected smugglers in the Central Caribbean on  May 1.

The USS Wichita intercepted the vessel, detaining three suspected drug traffickers.

“Once again the Wichita team performed exceptionally well in a challenging situation,” said Cmdr. Eric Rolfs, Wichita’s executive officer was quoted as saying on the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service. “Working together, along with our partners and allies to keep these waters safe is what our mission out here is all about."

On March 13, the USS Wichita’s crew, along with the U.S. Coast Guard, seized 400 kilograms of suspected cocaine with an estimated wholesale value of $17 million. Three suspected drug traffickers were detained in that operation.

The USS Wichita has been deployed in the U.S. Southern Command area to support counter drug operations, in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

Bill joined WJCT News in September of 2017 from The Florida Times-Union, where he served in a variety of multimedia journalism positions.