Coast Guard Cutter Mellon returns from counter drug patrol

13th Coast Guard District NewsSEATTLE – The Coast Guard Cutter Mellon, home ported at pier 36, returned home Wednesday after a successful 84-day counter drug patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean off the coasts of Central and South America.

While patrolling international waters off the coast of Panama on Dec. 1, 2011, Mellon’s crew coordinated the efforts of a maritime patrol aircraft and an armed Coast Guard helicopter to interdict a suspected smuggling vessel. During Mellon’s nighttime pursuit of the vessel, a “go fast” boat typically used for smuggling, the fleeing suspects jettisoned 15 bales of cocaine in an attempt to lighten their vessel and escape. Despite their efforts, Mellon stopped the “go fast,” recovered 14 bales containing more than 700 pounds of cocaine, and detained three suspected smugglers.

During this deployment Mellon’s crew also came to the aid of a Costa Rican fishing vessel that was disabled and running perilously low on food and water. Mellon provided food, water, and life preservers to the four fisherman, and monitored the vessel until another fishing vessel arrived to tow the disabled boat back to Golfito, Costa Rica.

Aggressive patrols and surveillance of drug transit zones in the region are coordinated by the Joint Interagency Task Force based in Key West, Fla. Counter drug patrols and interdictions are also coordinated with many nations in the region. U.S. seizures of vessels and contraband and apprehension of suspects in the Eastern Pacific, where most of the cocaine seized by the U.S. is intercepted, are conducted under the tactical control and law enforcement authority of the Coast Guard’s 11th District based in Alameda, Calif.

Commissioned in 1967, the multi-mission 378’ high-endurance cutter Mellon is tasked with counter-drug patrols off the coasts of Central and South America, fisheries enforcement in the Bering Sea, out of hemisphere patrols in support of national security policy, and search and rescue. Mellon can respond to all emergencies while at sea, operating independently or in company with other US or foreign warships and aircraft.

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