Coast Guard Cutter Sherman returns from 50-day patrol

SAN DIEGO — The crew of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sherman is scheduled to return to their homeport of San Diego Friday, March 14, after a 50-day patrol conducting frontline maritime drug interdiction and search and rescue operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

During the deployment, Sherman’s crew partnered with the Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) based out of Jacksonville, Fla., and embarked one of their precision-fire capable helicopters and aircrew.

The Sherman’s crew patrolled international waters off the coasts of Central and South America intercepting and boarding suspicious vessels and helping to disrupt thousands of pounds of cocaine destined for the United States. Sherman’s crew and the HITRON interdicted and seized one vessel after a chase that included suspects throwing their contraband overboard and the helicopter crew firing warning shots and engine-disabling shots to stop the boat.

Although Sherman was patrolling the Eastern Pacific primarily in support of the counter drug mission, the crew was also able to assist those in need on the high seas. During a routine law enforcement boarding of a fishing vessel, the focus of the boarding team quickly shifted to rescue and assistance once they got onboard. The fishing vessel had a cracked water tank and only had enough food and water to sustain a few more hours at sea, but was more than five days away from their homeport. Sherman assisted the fishermen by providing beans, rice, and water for their journey home.

“It’s an inspiring thing to witness, helping others in need, getting woken up in the middle of the night to come together with my shipmates to help people is something I will always be honored to do,” said Seaman Marlina Johannik.

Capt. Kevin Jones was exceedingly proud to lead the 170-person crew of Sherman on his second patrol as commanding officer.

“We have the best crew and a great cutter with a long history of proudly serving our country. The long days and exceptional professionalism of the crew honor all of those who came before us,” said Jones.

The cutter also had port calls in El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, and Guatemala for resupply and crew rest. It is common for Coast Guard cutters to participate in community relations events during foreign port calls, and this time it was no different.

For example, Sherman’s crew took advantage of the opportunity to strengthen established partnerships and bond with the Costa Rican Coast Guard both on and off duty. Having been bested at soccer during their last patrol, Sherman’s team was eager for a rematch with the Costa Rican Coast Guard and the cutter’s crew accepted the challenge to a game of “futbol” in Golfito, Costa Rica.

Twelve Sherman crew members proudly represented the cutter during the game, but fell short of victory by two goals. Despite the score, the positive interactions with the Costa Rican Coast Guard and local citizens really left their mark on Sherman’s crew. Before the match, crewmembers gave away new soccer balls to the local children in recognition of the shared values that both countries’ coast guards hold strong.

“It was a great opportunity to play soccer again, especially since I have not had the opportunity to play since high school,” said Seaman Gabriel Villanueva, Sherman’s Most Valuable Player for the day. “It got me really hyped knowing we were about to play the same Costa Rican team who beat us last time. I wanted the game to be fun and competitive, but at the end of the day the best feeling was giving away those new soccer balls to the school children and seeing their faces light up.”

The 44-year-old Sherman and the other Secretary-class, high endurance cutters, are being replaced by the Legend-class, national security cutters (NSCs). The NSCs are better equipped, more durable, and more efficient than their predecessor, and allow the Coast Guard to deliver its unique blend of military capability, law enforcement authority, and lifesaving expertise wherever needed to protect American interests, today and for decades to come.

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