Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin returns home after eventful 100-day patrol

Southeastern Coast Guard News
CHARLESTON, S.C. – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin returned to homeport on Sunday June 9 following a successful 3 ½ month patrol in counter-drug missions, search and rescue, maritime exercises and community outreach.

The Gallatin’s counterdrug operations for this patrol resulted in the collective seizure of more than 2,200 lbs. of cocaine and 3,500 lbs. of marijuana, worth approximately $37.4 million wholesale value.

The Gallatin’s patrol highlights include:

  • Three cocaine seizures and four go-fast vessel disruptions. The contraband and suspected smugglers were offloaded in Miami April 27.
  • Transfer of marijuana seized May 10 by a Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment aboard the Royal Netherlands Navy Vessel HNMLS Friesland. A Coast Guard small boat rendezvoused with the Gallatin Thursday for the June 7 offload.
  • Search and rescue mission of passengers aboard a sinking panga March 15. The survivors were transferred to the Colombian Navy.
  • Maritime exercises and professional exchange missions with Dutch Naval Vessel HNMLS Friesland and U.S. Navy’s Mayport, Fla.,-based HSV Swift.
  • Port calls in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Bocas Del Toro, Panama; and Roatan, Honduras.  During the port calls, the Gallatin’s crew enthusiastically worked several community outreach projects which included ship tours for more than 400 school children and their teachers in Guantanamo Bay and Roatan. The crew also painted, plumbed, and did electrical work in local hospitals and churches.

“This has been a highly productive and eventful patrol and I’m extremely proud of the crew’s performance,” said Capt. Caleb Corson, Gallatin’s commanding officer. “Their pride and dedication, even when things get tough, really keeps me motivated and focused on why the Coast Guard is such a fantastic organization; it’s our greatest asset, the people.”

“Gallatin’s successes during the Spring 2013 patrol resulted from an extremely hard working crew, interoperability amongst land/air/sea units, and a strong support network we could consistently rely on,” said Lt. Adam A. Paul, operations officer aboard the Gallatin. “Our impact on the drug war was truly substantial, primarily due to the teamwork between operators at sea and support staff ashore.”

At the beginning of the patrol, the Gallatin embarked an Aviation Detachment from the Coast Guard’s Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron from Jacksonville, Fla., to serve as a surveillance platform for law enforcement and search and rescue missions.

The Cutter Gallatin is a 378-foot high endurance cutter based in Charleston. With a crew of approximately 170, the Gallatin’s missions include search and rescue, homeland security, drug and migrant interdiction, marine environmental protection, fisheries enforcement and maritime law enforcement.

As the Coast Guard’s last high-endurance cutter stationed on the east coast, Gallatin is the largest and most capable Coast Guard vessel patrolling the Caribbean Sea.  The 44-year-old Gallatin and all Secretary-class, high endurance cutters, are being replaced by eight Legend-class, National Security Cutters. The NSCs are faster, better equipped, more durable, safer and more efficient than their predecessors, and will allow the Coast Guard to deliver its unique blend of military capability, law enforcement authority and lifesaving expertise wherever needed to protect American interests, today and for decades to come.

HITRON forward deploys armed helicopters to high-threat drug trafficking and high-risk security areas in support of the U.S. counter-narcotics mission. HITRON helicopters will intercept suspect targets and vector cutters or interdiction vessels to the scene for apprehension.

The Gallatin’s counter-drug missions were carried out as part of Operation Martillo, which is one component in the U.S. 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 nation agencies to counter this illicit trafficking.

The Joint Interagency Task Force South, a component of the U.S. Southern Command, is responsible for the overall coordination of the counter-drug mission in the Atlantic. U.S. maritime law enforcement and the interdiction phase of operations in the region occurs under the tactical control of the 7th Coast Guard District based in Miami., or by law enforcement agencies of partner nations in the region.

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