JACKSONVILLE, Fla.— The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Valiant returned home to Naval Station Mayport, Friday, after completing a six-week deployment to the Florida Straits and Windward Passage in support of Operation Southeast Watch.
Under Operation Southeast Watch, the Cutter Valiant’s crew worked alongside interagency and international partners to humanely embark, process and care for 172 Cuban and Haitian migrants during a ten-day period in the Florida Straits.
Cutter Valiant’s crew also worked jointly with the Haitian Coast Guard in Cap Haitien, Haiti, to repatriate 12 Haitian migrants. The cutter patrolled the Florida Straits and Windward Passage to discourage overloaded Cuban and Haitian migrants aboard unseaworthly vessels from taking to sea, a dangerous practice that unnecessarily risks hundreds of lives of men, women, children and in some cases, pets.
This patrol is the final deployment for commanding officer Cmdr. Adam A. Chamie, who will relinquish his authority and responsibility scheduled for July at a ceremony aboard Naval Station Mayport.
“It has been a true honor to serve alongside the dedicated men and women on Valiant,” he said. “I’ve never served with a harder working and more devoted group of shipmates. Over the past two years, their accomplishments and contributions to the Coast Guard and our nation have been, stellar, nothing short of spectacular.”
While underway in the Windward Passage, the Valiant’s crew hosted the Coast Guard’s top active duty and reserve senior enlisted leaders, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, Master Chief Steven Cantrell and his counterpart in the reserve forces, Master Chief Eric Johnson. The master chiefs sailed with the cutter for two days. While aboard they spent time with and mentored the crew, and observed law enforcement training. Cantrell, also the Coast Guard’s Silver Ancient Mariner, presided over a permanent Cutterman board for three crewmembers. The Silver Ancient Mariner is bestowed to an enlisted member who is the longest-serving permanent Cutterman with more than 10 years of sea time.
In the past year alone, Valiant interdicted 13 go-fast vessels, seized 8.7 tons of cocaine, and detained 39 suspected smugglers for prosecution. In total, the wholesale value of the seized contraband was over $233 million.
Operation Southeast Watch is an international joint-agency effort between the U.S. Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection assets, as well as members of the Royal Bahamian Defense Force, in the Florida Straits and Windward Passage to detect and interdict individuals attempting to illegally enter the United States by sea.
Coast Guard Cutter Valiant is a 210-foot Medium Endurance Cutter with a 75-member crew. Valiant and 26 other Medium Endurance Cutters are slated for replacement by a new class of cutters. The Offshore Patrol Cutters will operate more than 50 miles from land, carrying out the Coast Guard’s maritime security and safety missions 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 will replace. Equipped with modern sensors, the OPC 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.
Valiant is the largest Coast Guard Cutter in north Florida and is homeported at Naval Station Mayport.