PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bear returned to their homeport to Portsmouth, Virginia, Feb. 4, 2016 following a month-long patrol in the Western Caribbean Sea.
During their patrol, Bear’s crew coordinated with multiple countries in the central Caribbean, including the Bahamas, Haiti and Cuba, to stem the flow of drugs into the country, assist with safety of life at sea and to deter the flow of illegal migration in the Caribbean.
During the patrol, Cutter Bear helped the Royal Bahamian Police Force seize more than 21 kilograms of contraband illegally smuggled between countries, helped repatriate five Cubans, and deterred the unsafe and illegal transit of an untold number of Haitian migrants.
In addition to stopping drugs and migrants, Bear helped save of two Belgian sailors who were stranded south of Cuba. Working with the Cuban Boarder Guard, Cutter Bear ensured the sailing vessel safely made it to shore for repairs.
“Every day Coast Guard men and women show outstanding dedication by leaving their families to conduct these vital Coast Guard missions in service to our great nation,” said Cmdr. Andrew Meverden, Bear’s commanding officer. “I could not be more proud of the Bear crew for their performance on this short, yet dynamic patrol.”
Bear was commissioned on Feb. 4, 1983, and is the first of 13 “Famous Class” 270-foot medium endurance cutters. During any given patrol, Bear conducts a wide-spectrum of missions such as search and rescue, migrant interdiction operations, counter-drug patrols, fisheries enforcement, and international engagement – illustrating the versatile, multi-mission character of the Coast Guard and the cutter fleet.
The Coast Guard Cutter Bear, along with the service’s 26 other medium endurance cutters, is slated to be replaced by a new fleet of Offshore Patrol Cutters that will operate more than 50 miles from land, carrying out the Coast Guard’s maritime security and safety activities in support of national interests.
The OPC will be an economical, multi-mission ship, providing pursuit boat and helicopter capabilities and interagency interoperability. Its advanced technical features include modern sensors and enhanced surveillance capabilities 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.