San Diego-based legacy cutter returns to homeport after eventful counter-narcotic patrol

Coast Guard District 11 NewsALAMEDA, Calif. — The Coast Guard Cutter Sherman, a 44-year old legacy cutter, returned to San Diego June 20 from an eventful 72-day counter-narcotic patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean taking seven narco-traffickers off the water and preventing three metric tons of cocaine from entering the U.S. This event follows the cutter’s visit to a Colombian Navy base where officials met to affirm their commitment to maritime law enforcement operations.

On May 27, the Sherman crew apprehended four suspected drug smugglers and seven bales of cocaine 94 nautical miles off the coast of Colombia. Law enforcement teams aboard two interdiction boats and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter pursued and interdicted the suspected smugglers on a “go fast” vessel. The suspects and narcotics were later transferred to the U.S. to prosecution.

At the beginning of their patrol, Sherman pulled into port May 15 at Bahia Malaga Naval Base, Colombia, to host a visit and strengthen relationships with Colombian officials to include the Bahia Malaga Base Commander, the Colombian Navy Pacific Operations Command Chief of Staff, the Drug Enforcement Administration Regional Director, and the Director of Narcotics Affairs.

“My family and I loved representing the Coast Guard and our country when I served as the Coast Guard Attaché in Colombia,” said Capt. Joseph Hester, Sherman’s commanding officer. “Returning here with Sherman was a particular honor. The Colombian Navy is one of our strongest regional partners; we share a common enemy in the drug smugglers.”

Additionally, the Sherman’s boarding team crew, boarding officers, and other law enforcement personnel toured the Self Propelled Semi-Submersible (SPSS) and Self Propelled Fully-Submersible (SPFS) “museum.” They had a hands-on experience entering the first seized SPFS drug smuggling submarine.

Normally built in the jungles and remote areas of South America, the typical “drug sub” is less than 100 feet in length and can carry up to five crewmembers. They can carry a large amount of illicit cargo – up to 10 metric tons – for distances up to 5,000 miles. Most drug subs are designed to be difficult to spot and to rapidly sink, thereby making contraband recovery difficult.

The 44-year-old Sherman and the other Secretary-class, high endurance cutters, are being replaced by the Legend-class, National Security Cutters (NSCs). Currently based in Alameda, the first three NCSs are better equipped, more durable, safer, and more efficient than their predecessor, and will allow the Coast Guard to deliver its unique blend of military capability, law enforcement authority, and lifesaving expertise wherever needed to protect American interests, today and for decades to come.

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