Coast Guard Cutter Jarvis returns to Honolulu after major drug bust, search and rescue case

HONOLULU — The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Jarvis is scheduled to arrive at the Coast Guard base on Sand Island Thursday at 9 a.m.  While on patrol the Jarvis crew intercepted five tons of narcotics and were involved in the search for survivors of the mid-air collision of a Coast Guard C-130 airplane and a U.S. Marine Corps AH-1 Super Cobra helicopter.

The drug seizure occured Oct. 21, 2009, after a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Maritime Patrol Aircraft detected a self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) in international waters in the Eastern Pacific off the coast of Central America. The Jarvis, already patrolling in the area, intercepted the SPSS, boarded the vessel, and found that it was loaded with five tons of narcotics. The crew of the Jarvis seized the SPSS and detained the four crewmembers.

U.S. authorities coordinated with their Guatemalan counterparts and arranged for the seized vessel, cargo and crew to be brought to Puerto Quetzal for a more detailed inspection and processing of the detainees and evidence. Initial field tests of the contraband indicated the presence of cocaine, heroin and possibly other substances. Further testing will be conducted as the evidence is processed.

Jarvis crewmembers and other U.S. law enforcement agency personnel removed the narcotics from the semi-submersible vessel onto the Jarvis.

Overall coordination of detection and monitoring for interdiction operations is conducted by the Joint Interagency Task Force South headquartered in Key West, Fla. The actual intercept and seizure of suspected smuggling vessels in the Eastern Pacific is carried out under the tactical command and law enforcement authority of the 11th Coast Guard District, headquartered in Alameda, Calif., or by law enforcement agencies of partner nations in the region.

The Jarvis is homeported here and is one of several U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, and partner nation vessels that conduct counter-drug patrols in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The U.S. Coast Guard works closely with other U.S. federal agencies and countries within the region to disrupt and deter the flow of illegal drugs from Central and South America to the United States. Seizures in the Eastern Pacific accounted for almost 90 percent of all U.S. maritime drug intercepts in fiscal year 2009.

The Jarvis’ crew also played a pivoal role in the search for survivors of a downed Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento HC-130 Hercules aircraft and a Marine Corps AH-1 Super Cobra helicopter 15 miles east of San Clemente Island, Calif., on the evening of Oct. 29, 2009. The Jarvis was the on-scene coordinator for the multi-agency search, which involved more than 20 search and rescue assets and covered an area of more than 644 square miles.

Seven Coast Guardsmen and two Marines lost their lives in the mid-air collision. The incident is currently under investigation.

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