SEATTLE — The 150-person crew of Coast Guard Cutter Midgett is scheduled to return to homeport at Coast Guard Base Seattle at 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, after a successful 64-day counter-narcotics patrol along the maritime border between the U.S. and Mexico.
Midgett’s crew departed Seattle on Oct. 1, and devoted much of the transit south to serving as a training platform for Coast Guard aircrews from Oregon and California-based air stations.
Midgett’s crew was able to successfully qualify and re-certify five pilots and their aircrews from Air Stations North Bend, Ore.; Humboldt Bay, Calif.; San Francisco and Los Angeles/Long Beach.
Midgett’s crew served as a critical participant in Operation Baja Tempestad, a counter-narcotics and immigration operation held on the waters off the southern border of the U.S. Midgett’s crew worked in conjunction with other federal and state agencies to increase law enforcement presence to counter transnational criminal organizations trying to infiltrate the U.S.
In October, Midgett’s crew disrupted the efforts of a panga-a small drug smuggling vessel, traveling northbound with a shipment of suspected narcotics. An embarked helicopter crew and a law enforcement team were deployed from Midgett to pursue the panga. The suspects aboard the panga were forced to jettison their cargo in order to evade pursuit. Another of the Midgett’s smallboat crews was able to successfully recover more than 360 kilograms of marijuana, preventing an estimated street value of $760,000 worth of drugs from reaching the U.S.
In November, Midgett’s crew detected another panga operating approximately 100 miles southwest of San Diego. After a brief chase, warning shots were fired and eventually disabling fire was used to halt the panga. The vessel and five Mexican nationals were detained and brought to San Diego for eventual prosecution. The panga contained several hundred gallons of gasoline and was designed to be used as a refueling vessel for other smuggling boats.
These logistic supply vessels serve to extend the range of drug smuggling operations, pushing illicit cargo farther offshore in an attempt to evade capture.
“I am exceedingly proud of our crew’s efforts in helping to thwart the threats to our southern border,” said Capt. Laura Dickey, Midgett’s commanding officer. “They did remarkable work to keep a 41 year-old ship fully operational so that we could intercept both of these pangas and keep the smugglers from reaching their destinations. Our law enforcement teams did an outstanding job, but it took a team effort from the crew to achieve the successes we had.”
Coast Guard Cutter Midgett is named after Chief Warrant Officer John Allen Midgett, Jr. Midgett served in the U.S. Lifesaving Service for nearly 40 years. In 1918, Midgett and his crew rescued 42 men from the British tanker Mirlo after it had been struck by a torpedo. Following the heroic rescue, Midgett was awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal. The cutter was commissioned in 1972.