Coast Guard Cutter Reliance returns to port following Caribbean drug patrol

Portsmouth, N.H.- Coast Guard Cutter Reliance returned home to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, this month following a six-week patrol in the Caribbean Sea.

The Reliance was working under the Joint Interagency Task Force, a collection of agencies dedicated to stemming the flow of contraband on the water from South and Central America. While underway, the cutter conducted three law enforcement boardings of vessels suspected of drug smuggling and interdicted a small boat loaded with Cuban migrants off the coast of Key West, Fla.

The Reliance spent more than 50 days underway, often in high winds and heavy seas, such as those created by Hurricane Paloma, searching for vessels suspected of illicit drug trafficking.

While patrolling near Key West, the cutter came across a small group of Cuban migrants attempting to make the journey from Cuba to the U.S. in a 20-foot boat about 30 miles south of Key West. The crew intercepted the craft with assistance from a Coast Guard C-130 aircraft from Air Station Clearwater, Fla. All 15 people were safely brought aboard the cutter, and later transferred to another Coast Guard cutter.

In addition to law enforcement missions, the cutter’s crew worked closely with the Belizean and Honduran governments and military forces to enhance the U.S. Coast Guard’s international relations. The Reliance hosted a Belizean Coast Guard petty officer, a Belizean police officer, and a Honduran Naval Officer for the majority of the patrol. The cooperation from foreign countries demonstrated the shared dedication to stemming illegal activity in the region.

As the cutter crew transited home, they responded to a distress call from the fishing vessel Megan Marie, approximately 70 nautical miles southeast of Fire Island, NY. The Megan Marie was adrift in heavy weather. The vessel was safely towed to Buzzards Bay, Mass., and turned over to a commercial towing vessel.

“It was a great patrol that exercised a broad range of Coast Guard missions,” said Cmdr. Greg Burg, the commanding officer of the Reliance. “The crew performed remarkably and it was a bonus to get home to enjoy Christmas with their families.”

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