Coast Guard crew returns from 8-week patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean

Crew members aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Venturous wait to dock at their homeport in St. Petersburg, Florida, Monday, Sept. 12, 2016. The crew transited more than 10,000 miles during an 8-week Joint Interagency Task Force-South patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley J. Johnson)

Crew members aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Venturous wait to dock at their homeport in St. Petersburg, Florida, Monday, Sept. 12, 2016. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley J. Johnson)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Venturous returned Monday following an eight-week Joint Interagency Task Force – South patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

The crew transited more than 10,000 miles, patrolling the waters west of Central America and Mexico.

During the patrol, the cutter’s crew interdicted five drug smuggling vessels, also known as go-fasts vessels, carrying more than three metric tons of cocaine with an estimated wholesale value of $112 million.

The crew worked with the Department of Homeland Security and Defense Maritime Patrol Aircraft to carry out the Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere Strategy.

The Venturous crew also assisted the Mexican Navy in completing a 240-hour at-sea and dockside boarding of the Mexican fishing vessel El Dorado.  During the boarding, Venturous’ boarding team fostered U.S. and Mexican international cooperation by exchanging law enforcement tactics, techniques and procedures.

As Venturous patrolled the Pacific Ocean, a lookout spotted a pair of bottles and line floating on the water’s surface. Entangled in the bottles and line was a 100-pound green sea turtle – a protected species.  Upon spotting this distressed animal, the cutter maneuvered and set the turtle rescue bill. The cutter launched one of its embarked cutter boats to execute the rescue.  The team came alongside the sea turtle and untangled its flippers.

The Venturous crew, along with crews from the cutters Waesche, Mohawk and Steadfast, also teamed up with U.S. Northern Command’s Humanitarian Assistance Program in Tapachula, Mexico, to renovate a state hostel for cancer patients and families.

“The success Venturous achieved was a result of the hard work and dedication of her crew, along with the combined efforts of Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense personnel operating at sea, in the air and on land,” said Cmdr. Michael R. Gesele, commanding officer of the Venturous. “This was also a unique opportunity for me personally to transit the Panama Canal, a place where my grandfather worked in the Navy over 60 years ago.”

The decades-old medium endurance cutters are slated for replacement by a new class of cutters – the offshore patrol cutter. With the ability to operate more than 50 miles from land, the OPC will be a multi-mission ship, providing pursuit boat and helicopter capabilities and interoperability with other military and federal partners.

Coast Guard Cutter Venturous is a 210-foot Reliance class cutter homeported in St. Petersburg, Florida, and has a crew of 75.

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