ASTORIA, Oregon — Coast Guard Cutter Alert returned to its homeport Sunday after a record seizure of cocaine and apprehension of smugglers during its 53-day counter-drug patrol that spanned 12,500 miles in the Eastern Pacific.
Alert interdicted four “go-fast” boats carrying 2,977 kilograms of cocaine (3.3 tons) valued at $100 million and detained 11 suspected smugglers. Results of this magnitude have not been recorded by the Alert since 2009.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the crew’s accomplishments and the professionalism during the best patrol of my career,” said Cmdr. Patrick Culver. “They earned a well-deserved respite from the rigors of sea; reuniting with their loved ones at homecoming makes the mission truly worthwhile.”
Other patrol highlights included searching for fishing vessel Alexa that sent out a distress call to report it’s taking on water. Cutter Alert responded during heavy seas in a rain squall at night to find the sinking vessel with its crew manning the rail wearing life jackets. The four fishermen were rescued, medically examined and were transferred to a Costa Rican Coast Guard vessel.
These counter-drug interdictions in the Western Hemisphere Transit Zone off the coasts of South and Central America, were carried out in support of Operation Martillo, an international operation focused on sharing information and bringing together air, land, and maritime assets from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and Western Hemisphere and European partner nation agencies to counter illicit trafficking.
Cutter Alert is one of sixteen 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.
At 47 years old Cutter Alert and 26 other medium endurance cutters are slated for replacement by a new class of cutters. The Offshore Patrol Cutters will operate more than 50 miles from land, carrying out the Coast Guard’s maritime security and safety missions in support of national interests. The OPC will be an economical, multi-mission ship, providing pursiot boat and helicopeter capabilities and interoperability with other military and federal partners, superior to the cutters they will replace. Equipped with modern sensors, the OPC will provide the enhanced surveillance necessary to detect threats far from U.S. shores and meet the demands of the Coast Guard’s homeland security, search and rescue, law enforcement and other vital missions.