Coast Guard Cutter James returns home after 75-day counter-drug patrol

Coast Guard Cutter Joshua James file photo

Coast Guard Cutter Joshua James file photo

CHARLESTON, S.C. – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter James returned home to Charleston following a 75-day counter-drug patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, Friday.

During their patrol, the James’ crew, augmented by an embarked armed helicopter capable of disabling drug smuggling vessels from the Coast Guard’s Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, successfully interdicted four drug-smuggling vessels and seized more than 3,800 kilograms of cocaine and 3,300 pounds of marijuana bound for the United States.

The James’ patrol efforts were in direct support of the President’s enhanced counter-narcotics surge announced in early April. The U.S. Coast Guard, working cooperatively with U.S. Southern Command, began this surge effort in the Caribbean Sea and Eastern Pacific Ocean putting increased pressure on the drug trafficking organizations operating in Central and South America. Working alongside U.S. Navy crews aboard destroyers and littoral combat ships, the James crew, along with several other Coast Guard cutters crews seized or disrupted more than 43,000 kilograms of cocaine and nearly 10,000 pounds of marijuana.

Before returning home, the crew conducted a narcotics offload in Port Everglades, Florida, on June 9. After collecting contraband from other vessels in the Eastern Pacific and the Caribbean, the crew offloaded nearly 30,000lbs of cocaine and marijuana, worth an estimated $400 million dollars, representing seven additional interdictions events by Coast Guard and Navy vessels supporting this enhanced counter-narcotics surge. This demonstrates the successful Coast Guard and Navy joint counter-drug operations ongoing in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, accompanied by the Acting Administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Timothy Shea, the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, Admiral Karl Shultz, and Commander, U.S. Southern Command, Admiral Craig Faller presided over the offload.

“This patrol highlights our crew’s sincere commitment to protecting the American people from our adversaries amid all the uncertainty caused by COVID-19,” said Capt. Jeffrey Randall, Cutter James Commanding Officer. “The James’ crew demonstrated supreme resilience and performed exceptionally as showcased by the results of this successful patrol.”

The Coast Guard Cutter James is one of two 418-foot National Security Cutters (NSC) homeported in Charleston. With its robust command, control, communication, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance equipment, the NSC is the most technologically advanced ship in the Coast Guard’s fleet. NSCs are equipped with three state-of-the-art small boats and a stern boat launch system, dual aviation facilities, and serve as an afloat command and control platform for complex law enforcement and national security missions involving the Coast Guard and numerous partner agencies.

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