Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant returns from successful training period, homeland security patrol

7th Coast Guard District NewsPORT CANAVERAL, Fla. — The crew of the 210-foot Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant returned to its homeport of Port Canaveral, Fla., Monday following an active 60-day patrol.

The cutter left Port Canaveral on March 2, 2012 to conduct required bi-annual training at Naval Station Mayport, Florida. The three-week training period, known as Tailored Ship’s Training Availability, focused on developing the crew’s performance in shipboard operations as well as survival under adverse and hostile conditions.

In addition to schoolhouse and simulator training, the Vigilant crew conducted 139 drills and exercises earning awards in the operations, seamanship, engineering, and damage control warfare areas.

Upon departure from Mayport, the Vigilant crew headed for the Caribbean Sea to conduct a five-week homeland security patrol. On April 4, the Vigilant crew assisted Bahamian and U.S. law enforcement officials with the discovery of 480-pounds of marijuana and assorted prescription drugs on board a motor vessel, which was apprehended on the Bahamian Island of Great Inagua. The seizure prevented nearly $500,000 of illegal narcotics from crossing national borders.

A week later, while on patrol, a Coast Guard aircraft detected a suspect “go-fast” vessel and vectored the Vigilant crew to interdict. Once the vessel stopped, the Vigilant’s law enforcement team discovered 10 undocumented migrants in the boat. Once safely aboard the cutter, the crew provided the migrants with food, water, shelter, and a basic medical screening.

The 80-person crew on Vigilant participated in various community service related events while in Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos. Planned as a normal stop for logistics and rest, the crew helped revamp a local library, visited a special needs hospital where they read and played games with patients, and played a friendly soccer match with the local community.

The 38-year-old Vigilant and the other 13 medium endurance cutters are slated for replacement by a new class of cutters. The new Offshore Patrol Cutter will operate more than 50 miles from land, carrying out the Coast Guard’s maritime security and safety activities in support of national interests. The OPC will be an economical, multi-mission ship, providing pursuit boat and helicopter capabilities and interoperability with other military and federal partners, superior to the cutters they replace. Equipped with modern sensors, the Offshore Patrol Cutter will provide the enhanced surveillance necessary to detect threats far from U.S. shores and meet the demands of the Coast Guard’s homeland security, search and rescue, law enforcement and other vital missions.

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