Coast Guard cutter departs for first fisheries patrol

SEATTLE – The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf will depart Seattle after participating in the 60th Annual Seafair Fleet Week to conduct its first fisheries enforcement patrol.

The month long voyage will be the first fisheries patrol conducted by the Alameda, Calif., based National Security Cutter.

Bertholf’s crew will ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of fish stocks by monitoring fishing vessels catches. The protection of natural resources is one of the multi-purpose cutter missions which also include maritime safety, maritime security, maritime mobility and national defense.

Over the last two months, the cutter and crew interdicted more than 3,080 pounds of cocaine, preventing more than $40 million worth of drugs from reaching the streets of the U. S.

The first incident began when a group of four suspicious ‘pangas’ were spotted by a maritime patrol aircraft and the Bertholf, which was in the area on patrol as part of an ongoing interagency and international counter drug effort.

A marksman aboard a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, operating from the cutter, fired warning shots at all four vessels. Then, the gunner used disabling fire to shoot out the engines of two of the speedboats. During the pursuit, bales were seen being thrown overboard from all four boats.

The seized boats and suspects were apprehended a short time later by crews aboard two of the Bertholf’s interceptor boats

The Bertholf also worked jointly with a U.S. Navy ship to intercept another suspicious vessel near the Costa Rican coast. The Navy ship was already monitoring the vessel when Bertholf launched its embedded helicopter to support the operation. A marksman aboard the helicopter shot the engines of the vessel and four suspects were detained. The Bertholf, the Navy ship and Costa Rican Coast Guard vessels then recovered 65 jettisoned bales containing over 1,400 kilograms of cocaine with a wholesale value of approximately $45 million.

The Bertholf was commissioned less than one year ago. As the first of eight planned National Security Cutters being built as part of the Coast Guard’s deepwater major-acquisition and modernization program.

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