Coast Guard Cutter Alert crew returns following 70-day counter drug deployment

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ASTORIA, Ore. — The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Alert will return to Astoria Sunday at 6:30 p.m. following a counter-drug patrol in the eastern Pacific Ocean off the coast of South and Central America.

Alert’s crew members successfully conducted a 70-day patrol traveling more than 12,600 miles scouring the eastern Pacific Ocean for illicit traffickers using their two small boats and armed helicopter from Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron from Jacksonville, Florida. These efforts resulted in the successful interdiction of more than 3,180 pounds of cocaine.

Chief Petty Officer James Koon weighs narcotics seized during a counter-drug patrol in the eastern Pacific Ocean off the coast of South and Central America aboard the Cutter Alert from Astoria, Ore., Sept. 27, 2014. The crew of Alert will return home Sunday following a 70-day deployment in the eastern Pacific Ocean where they interdicted three suspected vessels, detained 15 suspected smugglers, and seized more than 3,180 pounds of cocaine with a wholesale value of more than $48 million. (Coast Guard photo by Cutter Alert)

Chief Petty Officer James Koon weighs narcotics seized during a counter-drug patrol in the eastern Pacific Ocean off the coast of South and Central America aboard the Cutter Alert from Astoria, Ore., Sept. 27, 2014. (Coast Guard photo by Cutter Alert)

“For us, every evolution is an all-hands evolution and requires everybody operating at their peak performance,” said Lt. Lee Crusius of Hoboken, New Jersey, the cutter’s operations officer. “To be operating at the highest level for over two months is a testament to the commitment, endurance and expertise of the crew, and for them to maintain such a high level of operational proficiency and safety in all evolutions while achieving these results, makes me extremely proud.”

The cutter’s crew worked jointly with Customs and Border Protection, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and other domestic and foreign military services to stem the flow of illegal drugs entering the U.S. and combat transnational organized crime networks. The Alert’s crew interdicted three suspected vessels, detained 15 suspected smugglers, and seized over 3,180 pounds of cocaine with a wholesale value of more than $48 million.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to play such a pivotal role on my first patrol and to help out my shipmates,” said Seaman Kristian Franco of Corona, California, who graduated from Coast Guard boot camp at Training Center Cape May, New Jersey, this summer. Franco was relied upon heavily as a Spanish translator to effectively communicate with partner nations.

Alert is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter with a crew of 76 personnel homeported in downtown Astoria at the Columbia River Maritime Museum. The crew conducts search and rescue, drug interdiction, defense readiness and environmental law enforcement missions over vast expanses of the eastern Pacific Ocean along the West Coast of the U.S. and Central American partner nations.

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