Coast Guard Cutter James returns home from 52-day patrol

Petty Officer third class Sean Benhart conducts preventive maintenance on a MH-65 helicopter from the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) deployed on the Coast Guard Cutter James (WMSL-754) (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Erik Villa Rodriguez)

Petty Officer Third Class Sean Benhart conducts preventive maintenance on a MH-65 helicopter from the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) deployed on the Coast Guard Cutter James (WMSL-754) (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Erik Villa Rodriguez)

CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Coast Guard Cutter James and crew returned to Charleston, Friday, following a 52-day counter-drug patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

The James crew 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 put increased pressure on the drug trafficking organizations operating in Central and South America. Working alongside other Coast Guard cutters and U.S. Navy partner ships, Coast Guard Cutter James crew seized or disrupted more than 11,400 pounds of cocaine and nearly 2,600 pounds of marijuana. Coast Guard Cutter James crew also successfully executed two search and rescue cases off the coast of Costa Rica, saving seven distressed mariners, within hours of each other.

During their patrol, 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 that seized more than 3,500 kilograms of cocaine bound for the maritime domain.

Before returning home, the James crew conducted a drug offload in Port Everglades, Florida, Wednesday. Collecting contraband from other vessels in the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean, the James crew offloaded nearly 32,000 pounds of cocaine and marijuana, worth an estimated $365 million, representing several 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 Caribbean Sea.

“This patrol highlights our crew’s continued commitment to protecting the American people from our adversaries,” said Capt. Todd Vance, James commanding officer. “Despite COVID, the James crew demonstrated supreme resilience and the results of their exceptional performance are being showcased today.”

The Coast Guard Cutter James is one of two 418-foot National Security Cutters homeported in Charleston, South Carolina. 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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