Congressman, senior Coast Guard leader visits Coast Guard Cutter Waesche

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SAN DIEGO – The chairman of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee met crewmembers of the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche following a 14-week deployment Friday.

Congressman Duncan Hunter, California’s 50th Congressional District representative, and Vice Adm. Charles W. Ray, commander of the Coast Guard Pacific Area, visited the cutter from Alameda, Calif., prior to its arrival in San Diego Saturday.

The crew of the Waesche conducted a number of Coast Guard missions during their deployment including counter narcotics near Central and South America, fisheries enforcement in the South Pacific, and defense readiness during the 2014 Rim of the Pacific Exercise, or RIMPAC, in Hawaii.

U.S. Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, California's 50th congressional district representative, speaks with Capt. Robert Hendrickson, the commanding officer of Coast Guard Cutter Waesche, and Vice Adm. Charles Ray, commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area, on the bridge of the Waesche during a familiarization tour Sept. 5, 2014. Hunter is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Connie Terrell)

U.S. Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, California’s 50th congressional district representative, speaks with Capt. Robert Hendrickson, the commanding officer of Coast Guard Cutter Waesche, and Vice Adm. Charles Ray, commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area, on the bridge of the Waesche during a familiarization tour Sept. 5, 2014. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Connie Terrell)

“Waesche’s patrol highlights the multi-mission nature of our service and is a sterling example of how Coast Guard missions impact nearly all facets of America’s way of life,” said Ray. “They’ve combated transnational criminal organizations, taken on leadership roles for defense readiness with the U.S. Navy and partner nations during RIMPAC, and helped protect our precious natural resources in the South Pacific.”

Waesche’s crew interdicted more than 10,000 pounds of illegal narcotics and six suspected drug smugglers during their patrol off the coast of Central and South America. During RIMPAC, the crew of Waesche led a multinational fleet of naval vessels as the commander of Combined Task Force 175, which included vessels from China, Brunei, Mexico, France and U.S.

During the patrol, Waesche’s crew helped enforce fisheries laws by delivering boarding teams to fishing vessels within Kiribati’s and the Cook Islands’ exclusive economic zones, which are adjacent to parts of the non-contiguous U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone – areas where long-range enforcement is often not feasible or too difficult due to their lack of off-shore patrol assets.

“This deployment focused on two very important things; the extensive and unique capabilities of the Coast Guard’s new national security cutter platform and its ability to inter-operate with a broad range of domestic and international partners,” said Capt. Robert Hendrickson, Waesche’s commanding officer.

The crew stopped in San Diego to offload supplies prior to returning to Coast Guard Base Alameda Saturday. Waesche is the second of eight planned national security cutters. Cutters like Waesche routinely conduct operations from South America to the Bering Sea where their unmatched combination of range, speed, and ability to operate in extreme weather provides the mission flexibility necessary to conduct counter-narcotics, homeland security, and alien migrant interdiction operations, domestic fisheries protection, search and rescue, and other Coast Guard missions at great distances from shore keeping threats far from the U.S. mainland.

Click the photo for more from the visit.

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