Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton crew returns home from 71-day counter-drug patrol

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton file photo.

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton file photo.

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton returned to Charleston Thursday following a 71-day counter-drug patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

During their patrol, the Hamilton crew conducted Combat Systems Ship Qualification Trials (CSSQT), counter-drug operations and represented the United States at Sail Cartagena de Indias 2018.

Beginning the patrol with CSSQT, the Hamilton crew underwent extensive testing of shipboard electronic weapons systems integral for combat readiness and evaluated the as designed capability of the Coast Guard’s National Security Cutter (NSC) platform in a threat-representative environment. The crew’s efforts provided support for system employment in continued operations for all the Coast Guard’s mission areas including national defense, search and rescue, and law enforcement.

The Hamilton crew also rescued an olive ridley sea turtle from abandoned fishing nets and line while patrolling the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The crew carefully approached the trapped turtle and was able to cut it free of net and line. The debris was removed from the ocean and the endangered turtle swam away with no signs of injury. One of the Coast Guard’s mission is safeguarding our living marine resources and protected species.

Finishing their patrol in Cartagena, Colombia, the Hamilton crew represented the United States at Sail Cartagena de Indias 2018, a tall ship summit celebrating 12 countries and over 3,000 sailors. While visiting Cartagena, the crew conducted public tours for over 1,600 visitors, hosted the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson, as well as other nation’s Naval Admirals including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. The crew visited Huatulco, Mexico, Cartagena, Colombia, and made two transits through the Panama Canal.

While patrolling, the Hamilton crew interdicted drug smugglers and seized an estimated 2,962 kilograms of cocaine. The crew conducted a contraband offload Wednesday in Port Everglades, Florida, offloading more than 12,500 pounds of cocaine and 50 pounds of marijuana.

“I could not be more impressed by this crew and their dedication to keeping these 2,962 kilograms of cocaine off of the streets and profits out of the hands of transnational criminal networks,” stated Capt. Mark Gordon, commanding officer of cutter Hamilton. “We don’t do this alone and it was particularly rewarding to participate in Sail Cartagena de Indias 2018 and reaffirm our relationships with many of our regional partners. It has been a busy two months for this ship and her crew as we completed vital testing of the ship’s weapons systems and departed Charleston for patrol. We’re excited to be returning to homeport to prepare for our next patrol.”

The Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton, the fourth 418-foot National Security Cutter, was commissioned in 2014. The Hamilton is one of two NSC’s homeported in Charleston. The Hamilton’s primary missions include counter drug, alien and migrant interdiction and search and rescue operations.

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