Coast Guard Cutter Waesche returns after 97-day deployment

Family and friends wait patiently for the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Waesche to arrive at the pier on Coast Guard Island in Alameda, Calif., Nov. 20, 2016. The crew of Waesche returns home following a 97-day deployment off the coast of Central America where they conducted counter-narcotics, search and resuce and living marine resource operations. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jordan Akiyama.

Family and friends wait patiently for the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Waesche to arrive at the pier on Coast Guard Island in Alameda, Calif., Nov. 20, 2016.  Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jordan Akiyama.

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche returned to Coast Guard Island in Alameda, Calif. Sunday at 10 a.m., following a 97-day, 15,000 nautical-mile patrol off the coast of Central America which consisted of counter-drug, search and rescue and living marine resource operations.

Waesche’s crew seized or disrupted more than 27,000 lbs of cocaine worth over $797 million and apprehended 24 suspected narcotics traffickers. In early September, Waesche’s crew seized a self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) in the Eastern Pacific with an estimated seven tons of cocaine onboard.

“It’s definitely amazing to see how we carry out operations,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Jacques Pierre, an operations specialist who maintains communications with boarding teams during counterdrug operations. “It’s rewarding and you feel like it’s all worth it, from the training we do to the extensive preparations we make.”

Following the deployment to the Eastern Pacific, Waesche and its crew spent three weeks off the coast of San Diego to complete rigorous proficiency exercises, which sharpen the unit’s readiness to respond to shipboard emergencies. Additionally, the crew practiced national defense scenarios to ensure seamless integration with partners from the Department of Defense. As one of the nation’s five armed forces, the Coast Guard plays a vital role in maritime military operations within the United States and overseas.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this crew and their ‘Devotion to Duty,’” said Waesche’s commanding officer, Capt. Jim Passarelli. “Coast Guard men and women face significant risks posed by these dangerous criminal organizations. Our crew preserved valuable evidence and kept millions of dollars illicit narcotics off America’s streets, and I’m certain they would do it again in a heartbeat.”

The Coast Guard and its interagency partners removed more than 416,600 pounds of cocaine worth over $5.6 billion in Fiscal Year 2016, which ran from Oct. 1, 2015 to Sept. 30, 2016. The service’s previous record was 367,700 pounds of cocaine removed in Fiscal Year 2008.

The Cutter Waesche is a 418-foot vessel with a top speed of 28 knots and a range of 12,000 nautical miles. It is equipped with a flight deck and hangars capable of housing two multi-mission helicopters, and outfitted with the most advanced command, control, and communications equipment.

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