Coast Guard Cutter Forward crew returns to Portsmouth, Va., after 52-day patrol

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Forward transits toward its homeport of Portsmouth, Va. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Leake)PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Forward returned to Portsmouth Saturday after a 52-day patrol in the waters off Southern Florida and the Caribbean Sea.

During the patrol, the crew supported Coast Guard Operations Southeast Watch and Bluehammer by performing Alien Migrant Interdiction Operations in the Windward Pass and Florida Straits.

The crew provided blankets, sanitary facilities, supervision and 270 meals for 117 Cuban migrants and 10 detained suspected drug smugglers for a combined 30 days.

The crew maintained a chain of custody for suspected drug smuggling cases, including 989 pounds of marijuana and a representative sample of 10 kilograms of cocaine.

The crew also rescued a stranded Cuban fisherman who ran out of food, drinking water and fuel. Members of Cutter Forward’s rescue and assistance team brought the mariner supplies and ensured his vessel’s engine was working, ultimately saving the fisherman’s life. The crew escorted the man and his fishing boat back to Cuban waters to the Cuban Coast Guard.

“This has been a tremendously successful patrol throughout the Southern Florida and Caribbean operating area where the crew showcased their proficiency and commitment, while executing the Coast Guard missions of alien migrant operations, counter-narcotic patrols and search and rescue,” said Stephen Adler, Forward’s commanding officer. “The crew’s service and sacrifice in standing the watch at sea over the holiday season is not only a testament to their devotion to their country, but also a reflection of their dedication as a guardian of our shores in the protection of our nation’s interest. We are happy to come home to our friends and families for some rest and relaxation, but also look forward to our next challenge at sea.”

Cutter Forward is a 270-foot Medium-Endurance Cutter home-ported in Portsmouth, Virginia, with a crew of about 110, that operates in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico for the commander of Coast Guard Atlantic Area. The crew’s missions include search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, marine environmental protection, defense readiness, and ports, waterways and coastal security.

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