Report: USCG Cutter Delays Patrol Due to COVID Cases
Reports are indicating that the U.S. Coast Guard delayed the departure for one of its cutters due to an outbreak of the COVID-19 virus this week. The Steadfast, a 210-foot cutter that has been on active duty for more than 50 years and is currently homeported in Astoria, Oregon, is reported to have delayed its currently scheduled patrol. Earlier in the month, one of the U.S. Navy’s guided-missile destroyers was also forced to delay its deployment due to cases of the virus.
The Astorian newspaper reports that the Coast Guard did not say how many crew members contracted the virus or detail when the patrol was due to begin. The Coast Guard did not respond to a request for confirmation and additional details, but a spokesperson told the newspaper that the infected individuals are isolating to contain the spread and minimize transmission.
Last year, the Coast Guard reported to ensure the safety of Steadfast’s crew during the COVID-19 global pandemic, the crew conducted pre-deployment COVID-19 testing, followed by a 14-day monitoring period. The Steadfast deployed in December 2020 on a 45-day patrol that included more than 10,000 nautical miles in the eastern Pacific. During that patrol, the crew interdicted four vessels suspected of smuggling illicit narcotics. Steadfast’s boarding teams discovered and seized 1,675 pounds of cocaine, worth more than $28 million, and detained seven suspected smugglers. During April and May 2021 on another patrol, the vessel seized over 2,400 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $33 million, and detained three suspected traffickers.
The cutter, which was commissioned in 1968 operated for many years from St. Petersburg, Florida, and after being reconditioned in 1994 was transferred to Astoria, Oregon. It is reported to have a normal complement of 76 sailors. The Coast Guard spokesperson told the newspaper that the vessel was continuing to follow the unit’s pandemic plan while “the protection of our workforce and those we serve remains our highest priority.”
In mid-December 2021, the USS Milwaukee deployed from Florida with sailors that were reported to be fully vaccinated but discovered cases of the virus during a fueling stop days later at Guantanamo Bay. The Navy decided to hold the vessel for two weeks with the sailors in isolation to control the outbreak. The warship resumed its deployment on January 3 that includes counter-illicit drug trafficking missions in the Caribbean and the Eastern Pacific.