JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Forced budget cuts by the Federal Government may result in the Navy curtailing many of its drug interdiction missions in the Caribbean Sea.
That could mean fewer missions for the 4th fleet from Jacksonville.
"Last year we were able to capture between 152 to 200 metric tons of cocaine, hundreds of thousands of dollars and I can't count how many weapons and detainees in our mission," says Read Admiral Sinclair Harris.
Some of those drugs were bound for the streets of Northeast Florida.
The Navy is testing out using a blimp to help watch over the waters used so often by drug traffickers from Central and South America. Onboard the blimp is advanced equipment that can help control the airship, record video, and beam it back to other Navy vessels.
The Navy invited only Action News Jacksonville along for the test run. We got to see the blimp rise thousands of feet in the air, giving the blimp a view that spans more than 50 miles.
The benefit of these blimps: they can cut the cost of drug missions by two-thirds.
Rear Admiral Harris says the blimps are just one part of the Navy's effort to stop the drug trade over open waters.
This test mission will give the Fourth Fleet a chance to show their efforts to Navy higher-ups, to see if the blimp will be used on a more permanent basis.