Two Cutters Come Home for the Holidays After Anti-Drug Patrols

The crew of the Hamilton interdict a go-fast smuggling boat (USCG)

By The Maritime Executive 12-19-2018 02:01:12

The Coast Guard cutters Hamilton and Campbell have returned to port after successful counter-narcotics patrols in the Eastern Pacific, arriving back in the U.S. just in time for the holidays. 

Hamilton arrived at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Charleston, South Carolina on Monday, ending a 54-day deployment off Central and South America. At the beginning of the patrol, her crew carried out an exhaustive three-day search for a civilian aircraft that reportedly went down off the coast of South Carolina. 

During her tour in the Eastern Pacific, Hamilton detained 21 suspected drug smugglers from five different vessels and seized over 4.7 tons of cocaine, valued at over $140 million. Hamilton also temporarily took full tactical control of all counternarcotics operations in the Eastern Pacific and the Caribbean, coordinating the deployment of the extensive air and surface assets assigned to the anti-trafficking effort.

During the final days of the patrol, Hamilton’s crew assisted the medevac of an injured crewmember from the Panamanian-flagged cargo vessel Pacific Talent in the Gulf of Mexico. Hamilton’s crew supported the medevac by directing response operations and delivering fuel to the rescue helicopter that brought the crewmember to safety. 

"I could not be more impressed by this crew and their dedication,” said Capt. Mark Gordon, Hamilton’s CO. “We’re excited to be returning to homeport for the holidays and to prepare for our next patrol.” 

On Tuesday, the cutter Campbell returned to port at Kittery, Maine after a three-month, 21,000 nm patrol of the Eastern Pacific. During the patrol, the crew of the Campbell seized about 5,300 kilos of cocaine with an estimated value of $160 million, and they detained six suspected smugglers. The Campbell's crew also rescued a sea turtle that had become entangled in a net.

Separately, on Wednesday, the cutter Thetis returned to her home port in Key West, Florida after a 90-day migrant interdiction patrol in the Caribbean. Over the course of the tour, her crew successfully located and repatriated about 220 migrants from the Dominican Republic and Haiti as they attempted to enter the U.S. The cutter also rescued six Jamaican nationals who were stranded at sea for three days.