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Fiscal Year 2013 Milestones and Achievements

During Fiscal Year 2013, Air and Marine Operations (AMO) achieved 73,576 flight hours in the air and 111,910 underway hours on the water.

AMO's flight and underway hours contributed to:

  • 63,562 undocumented aliens apprehended
  • 1,015,075.89 pounds of marijuana seized worth over $2.6 billion
  • 155,120.44 pounds of cocaine seized worth over $11.6 billion
  • $25.3 million in currency seized
  • 2,194 weapons seized
  • Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts: AMO flew over 230 hours in response to Hurricane Sandy, and used numerous fixed-wing aircraft, including P-3s, C-550s, C-206s, and C-12s and rotary-wing aircraft, such as S-76s, UH-60s, UH-1Hs and AS350s. AMO aircrews provided logistic support and personnel transport and conducted damage assessment and reconnaissance flights. Additionally, agents from the El Paso Air Branch, Miami Air and Marine Branch and the New York Air Unit, coordinated with the Manassas Air Branch and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to participate in recovery efforts after Hurricane Sandy battered the New Jersey and New York coastline. Throughout the recovery effort, AMO personnel at the FEMA Emergency Operations Center in New Jersey worked with FEMA’s Air Operations Coordinators. AMO also provided air support to the Department of Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Special Events: AMO provided support for the 2013 Presidential Inauguration and the 2013 State of the Union Address in Washington, D.C. During these National Special Security Events (NSSEs), AMO provided downlink-capable aircraft to stream video to the U.S. Secret Service at the Multi-Agency Coordination Center. In addition, the Manassas Air Branch provided law enforcement and interdiction assets to enforce the Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) zone around these events.
  • Super Bowl XLVII: The New Orleans Air and Marine Branch, Jacksonville Air and Marine Branch and Miami Air and Marine Branch coordinated with federal and state law enforcement agencies to provide airspace security, airborne surveillance and maritime security during Super Bowl XLVII. The AMO branches conducted law enforcement missions to prevent disrupting activities surrounding the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, and to enforce the TFR zone around the stadium.
  • AMO completed the replacement of 3 additional P-3 aircraft wings, increasing the service life of each airframe by an additional 15,000 hours of flight time, or approximately 18 to 20 years of service. AMO also upgraded the transom on 6 Interceptor Class 39-foot Midnight Express marine vessels, extending their service life by approximately 7 to 8 years per vessel.
  • The Air and Marine Operations Center (AMOC) in Riverside, California, fielded the initial operational configuration for the first Maritime Domain Awareness, Service Oriented Architecture enterprise. As part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s Coastal Surveillance System pilot, this technology has already shown promise in its ability to manage and coherently integrate various maritime sensor systems into a single picture which can then be shared between stakeholders. This system was deployed as part of joint effort between AMO and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to identify current and available technologies that will permit the integration and federation of information and maritime sensor data throughout DHS and the broader interagency partners.
  • AMO developed a low cost solution to share radar information with Mexico.  The system provides Mexico with air domain awareness of its northern border. AMOC used the backbone of its Air and Marine Operations Surveillance System (AMOSS) to create a Mexican AMOSS, populated by AMO’s Air Domain Awareness network and selected air movement data. The new system enables cooperative operations between AMO and Mexican border security partners, further enhancing national security.
  • AMOC improved its targeting of potential criminal activities within the general aviation community throughout the United States during FY 2013. The center identified 53 events resulting in law enforcement actions, 38 of which involved contact with the pilot and culminated in the detection of 17 criminal and regulatory violations. This equals a 45 percent success rate in targeting potential violations – an approximate 24 percent improvement from FY 2012.
  • The UAS flew 5,117.3 hours in FY 2013, and has accumulated over 23,000 flight hours since FY 2006. UAS missions in FY 2013 contributed to the seizure of more than 2,645 pounds of cocaine and 56,300 pounds of marijuana with a combined street value of over $341 million. UAS missions also led to the seizure of 116 weapons, 2,525 apprehensions and 177 arrests.
  • AMO deployed the Guardian maritime UAS and a mobile ground control station to San Isidro Air Base in the Dominican Republic in support of Operation Caribbean Focus 2013, which was a coordinated effort of the Caribbean Border Interagency Group, Drug Enforcement Administration and Joint Interagency Task Force – South. The UAS flew 127.7 hours of maritime counter-narcotics surveillance over the southern approaches to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, and participated in the seizure/disruption of over 2,645 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $197.9 million. This equates to approximately 21 pounds of cocaine interdicted per UAS flight hour or over $1.5 million in illicit drugs stopped for every hour the UAS was flown from the deployed site.
  • P-3 Airborne Early Warning and Long Range Tracker aircraft flew over 6,600 hours in FY 2013, significantly contributing to Marine Domain Awareness off the coast of California, within the Gulf of Mexico, and throughout the Source and Transit Zones. P-3 aircraft took part in 144 total detections/intercepts of suspect targets and completed 55 seizure or disruption events, including 2 self-propelled semi-submersible vessel interdictions. Their efforts resulted in the seizure/disruption of 110,867 pounds of cocaine with a street value of over $8.3 billon.
  • On November 22, 2012, while conducting an airborne night patrol, a San Diego Air and Marine Branch AS350 helicopter detected a suspect panga-type vessel approximately 300 feet offshore near Carlsbad, California. The AMO helicopter was able to successfully direct an AMO interceptor vessel to intercept and follow the panga.  As the suspect vessel fled from the AMO vessel, Marine Interdiction Agents (MIAs) fired two warning shots and a subsequent disabling round. MIAs then boarded the disabled vessel, arresting the two occupants and seizing approximately 2,570 pounds of marijuana.
  • On December 4, 2012, a National Air Security Operations Center - Corpus Christi P-3 participated in the interdiction of a self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS). The crew of the SPSS scuttled the vessel, which was later recovered with 13,164 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of $985 million.
  • On January 31, 2013, the Marathon Marine Unit received information from the USCG regarding a search and rescue for a missing elderly fisherman who left Big Pine Key, Flordia, the previous day. After an extensive search, a crew from the unit located and rescued the missing fisherman from the treacherous water. The elderly fisherman was treated for hypothermia by crew members as he was transported to awaiting emergency medical services.
  • In February 2013, AMO flew in support of the search for Christopher Dorner, the former Los Angeles Police Department Officer who was charged in connection with a series of shootings and attacks on police officers and their families.  A Riverside Air Unit-based PC-12 fixed-wing aircraft participated in the initial high-level search for the suspect, and as the search progressed to a more detailed area in mountainous terrain, the unit launched an AS350 helicopter to provide a low-level live video feed to the tactical operations center. These live videos were critical to supporting local law enforcement on the ground with important images that contributed to agent and officer safety in the resolution of the incident.
  • On February 14, 2013, two Interceptor Class All-Weather 33-foot SAFE boats from the New Orleans Air and Marine Branch provided transportation and security in support of the recovery of the disabled Carnival Triumph cruise ship. AMO vessels transported CBP and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement  special agents to the ship, provided escort support, and assisted the USCG with port security.
  • Throughout February and March 2013, the San Diego Air and Marine Branch conducted Operation Blue Tempest. The operation focused on disrupting and seizing drugs arriving in the U.S. via the littoral southern California border. Ongoing missions provided aviation and maritime surveillance, allowing AMO to gather intelligence, develop a maritime database, and exploit targets of opportunity trafficking drugs along the coast of California. Utilizing both air and marine personnel and assets, the operation resulted in the seizure of 3,388 pounds of marijuana, over 24 pounds of cocaine,  64 pounds of methamphetamine, 5 vehicles, 9 vessels, 18 arrests, 39 alien apprehensions and the recovery of 1 stolen vessel.
  • On April 3, 2013, the New York Air Unit supported an ICE, Homeland Security Investigations-led multi-agency task force with over 600 agents in a large scale, simultaneous take down of heroin and cocaine suppliers, at over 90 locations in the New London, Connecticut area. The New York Air Unit flew three AS350 helicopters to serve as a force multiplier for enhanced situational awareness, providing video downlink and aircrew rifle capabilities. The operation resulted in 103 arrests and the seizure of over 3 pounds of heroin, 1 pound of marijuana, 16 vehicles, 11 firearms and $36,000.
  • On April 19, 2013, the Manassas Air Branch deployed aircraft in response to the Boston Marathon explosions. During the resulting law enforcement efforts, a Manassas Air Branch AS350 helicopter was able to relieve a Massachusetts State Police aircraft that was low on fuel and provide electro-optical/infrared coverage on the boat where the bombing suspect was hiding. Additionally, a Manassas Air Branch S-76 helicopter transported the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Response Team to Boston to assist in the apprehension of the suspect.
  • On August 9, 2013, a Spokane Air Unit-based AS350 helicopter and a Montana Air Unit-based UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter joined the search for kidnapping victim Hannah Anderson and her suspected abductor, James DiMaggio, in the area around Cascade Lake, Idaho. The AS350 used its advanced sensors to collect data used to discover and positively identify potential campsites where the victim was likely held, and relayed the information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) onsite command center. The next day, following confirmation of the suspect and victim’s campsite by a Department of Justice fixed-wing aircraft, the AMO helicopters covertly inserted the FBI Hostage Rescue Team into the area, leading to Hannah Anderson’s safe rescue.
  • On August 15, 2013, a St. Thomas Marine Unit-based Interceptor Class 39-foot Midnight Express attempted to hail a vessel with two occupants near Brewer’s Bay, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. On approach the suspect vessel fled from the AMO interceptor at a high rate of speed to the beach where the two suspects fled on foot. MIAs followed the suspects, but were unable to locate the fleeing suspects. On inspection of the suspect vessel, MIAs discovered several duffle bags containing $580,000.