Coast Guard Cutter Alert returns home following counter drug patrol

Charlotte Barrett, daughter of Chief Petty Officer Joshua Barrett, waits for her daddy to return home to Astoria, Ore., March 8, 2015. Barrett was one of many family members who enjoyed the sunny day while waiting for their loved ones to return home on the cutter. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley)

The daughter of Chief Petty Officer Joshua Barrett, waits for her daddy to return home to Astoria, Ore., March 8, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley)

ASTORIA, Ore. – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Alert returned to Astoria Sunday following a 61-day counter narcotics patrol off the coast of Central and South America.

The crew of the 46-year old ship interdicted two suspected smuggling vessels stopping an estimated 2,300 pounds of cocaine worth approximately $28 million.

On two separate occasions, the crew found sea turtles entangled in abandoned fishing gear. The crew’s efforts saved three turtles, allowing them to swim away unharmed.

Coast Guardsmen aboard also improved their proficiency by conducting 94 safety and mission specific drills. These exercises included shipboard emergency response, navigation proficiency, and live-fire gunnery exercises.

“It is truly amazing to see a 46-year old cutter still maintain superior performance and capability,” said Alert’s Weapons Officer, Ensign John Locke of Springfield, Va. “Ultimately, it is the crew that makes any mission possible in a very dynamic global environment.”

For some aboard, this patrol was a very exciting first experience in the Coast Guard.

“Overall, my first experience underway was enjoyable,” said Seaman Robert Stamatelos of Cherry Hill, N.J. “Coming right out of boot camp, I really didn’t know what to expect. It was a tough adjustment to living aboard a ship for two months, but it helped to have such a great crew. The best part for me was getting drug busts. I never thought I’d be taking part in an operation like this, especially so soon in my career. I take a lot of pride knowing we got drugs off the streets of America.”

Alert is one of 16 210-foot Reliance-class medium endurance cutters built for the Coast Guard. Commissioned in 1969, Alert is one of only three stationed on the West Coast and has an area of responsibility ranging throughout the Pacific Ocean.

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