Astoria, Ore. – The United States Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast returned home Thursday, September 15, after successfully completing a 62-day counter narcotics patrol in the Eastern Pacific.
The 210-foot cutter was deployed in support of Joint Interagency Task Force – South (JIATF-S) with the primary mission of detection and interdiction of illegal narcotics trafficking. The efforts by the crew of Steadfast lead to the successful interdiction of more than 4,800 pounds of cocaine, with a street value of over $71 Million.
The highlight of the patrol was the successful interdiction of three vessels suspected of smuggling illegal narcotics. Steadfast boarding teams interdicted two fishing vessels and one go-fast vessel, all found to have been carrying contraband onboard. One notable case required boarding team members to meticulously account for every space onboard the vessel over the course of six days leading to the discovery of a hidden compartment containing more than 1,800 lbs of cocaine.
The Steadfast crew also worked to strengthen international partnerships by conducting a joint boarding with Guatemalan Naval Special Forces (FEN) on a Guatemalan fishing vessel suspected of illegal narcotics smuggling. This joint operation lead to the seizure of an additional 1,800 pounds of cocaine and demonstrated international cooperation that is vital to enforcing maritime trafficking laws and furthering the Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere Strategy.
Steadfast crewmembers also participated in two Community Relations events in Puerto Vallarta and Tapachula, Mexico. In Puerto Vallarta, 30 members of the Steadfast crew worked alongside the Navy League of the United States, Puerto Vallarta Chapter at Corazon de Nina, a shelter for at-risk children in the state of Jalisco. Crewmembers helped paint living spaces for the children, planted a garden and general clean ups around the property that improved the quality of life at the facility. Crewmembers then hosted the children for a tour of the ship the following day.
In Tapachula, Steadfast crewmembers volunteered at a cancer shelter run by the Mexican National System for Integral Family Development (DIF). In conjunction with U.S. Embassy Mexico City’s Office of Defense Cooperation and U.S. Northern Command Humanitarian Assistance Program, Steadfast crewmembers improved dormitory facilities at the shelter for patients who travel to the facility from the states of Chiapas and Tabasco to receive treatment at the regional public hospital. Additionally, Steadfast crewmembers assembled and delivered 25 wheelchairs purchased by U.S. Northern Command Humanitarian Assistance Program to patients identified State of Chiapas social services (DIF) who are in need of mobility assistance.
During this deployment, Steadfast and her crew sailed more than 10,000 miles and earned over 100 crew qualifications.
Steadfast is a Reliance Class cutter that has been homeported in Astoria since January 1994. Previously, she was homeported in St. Petersburg, Florida where the cutter earned the nickname “El Tiburon Blanco,” or “White Shark,” from drug smugglers for her notoriously effective law enforcement operations in the Caribbean. She was the first cutter to be awarded the gold marijuana leaf, indicating one million pounds of marijuana seized.