WILMINGTON, North Carolina – The Coast Guard Cutter Diligence is scheduled to return to its homeport in Wilmington Thursday, following a 60-day patrol in the Caribbean Sea.
During this patrol, Diligence performed a diverse range of Coast Guard missions throughout the Western and Southern Caribbean which included search and rescue operations off the coast of Honduras, and drug interdiction operations in the vicinity of Columbia, Panama, and Nicaragua.
“The opportunities to excel in another successful deployment were made possible by our phenomenal crew,” said Cmdr. Jeff Randall, commanding officer of the Diligence. “We’ve worked very hard to get the job done and now very thankful to head home to be with our loved ones.”
Patrol highlights and milestones include:
Transiting north of Cuba, Diligence encountered a small makeshift raft called a “rustica” with nine Cuban migrants onboard. Diligence crew plucked the migrants from the sinking craft and transferred to another Coast Guard vessel for eventual repatriation to Cuba.
The cutter’s law enforcement boarding team took approximately 144 hours to inspect a vessel suspected of smuggling narcotics, then, it was escorted to Panama and transferred to a joint team of Panamanian naval personnel and additional Coast Guard law enforcement crew. As the inspection continued, 112 kilograms of cocaine were seized.
Diligence worked with the Honduran Coast Guard to respond to a search and rescue mission after receiving a distress call from a disabled Honduran fishing vessel that had been stranded for several days inside Honduran Territorial Seas. After finding the vessel, Diligence remained on scene for eight hours until the Honduran Coast Guard arrived to help.
Regular work days in addition to response missions aboard the cutter involve training time where newly-reported crewmembers completed their required shipboard and boat crew qualifications. Six cadets from the Coast Guard Academy on their summer externship program were successfully integrated into shipboard life that will help prepare them for post-graduation careers in the Coast Guard as officers.
“I am truly grateful for opportunity to train with such an amazing crew and to receive on the job training that just can’t be taught at the Academy,” said Cadet 1st Class Maggie Hine.
After Diligences returns to port, it will make preparations for a change of command ceremony scheduled for July 9. Diligence’s current commanding officer, Capt. Jeff Randall, will be relieved by prospective commanding officer, Cmdr. Matt Carter.
Diligence’s drug interdictions were carried out as part of Operation Martillo, which is one component in the United States government’s whole-of-government approach to countering the use of Central American littorals as transshipment routes for illicit drugs, weapons and cash. Operation Martillo is 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 agencies to counter this illicit trafficking.
Coast Guard Cutter Diligence is a 210 foot medium endurance cutter with a crew of approximately 80. Diligence’s primary missions consist of counter drug and migrant interdiction, enforcing federal fishery laws, and search and rescue operations.
Fifty year-old Diligence and the other 26 medium endurance cutters are slated for replacement by a new class of cutters. The new Offshore Patrol Cutter 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 interoperability with other military and federal partners, superior to the cutters they 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.