Coast Guard Cutter Tampa returns home following 55-day counter-drug patrol

Coast Guard Cutter Tampa file photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lisa Ferdinando

Coast Guard Cutter Tampa file photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lisa Ferdinando

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa returned to their homeport in Portsmouth, Virginia after a 55-day counter-drug patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, Saturday

The crew of the Tampa interdicted over 5,200 pounds of cocaine, of which 1,950 pounds was successfully recovered, and 3,600 pounds of marijuana worth a total of $96 million dollars. The crew also detained eight suspected drug smugglers who were transferred to the Department of Justice officials in Port Everglades, Florida for prosecution.

The Tampa crew executed the counter-narcotics mission in the Eastern Pacific, interdicting two low profile vessels as well as contraband jettisoned by a third vessel.

Prior to entering the primary patrol area, the crew conducted a joint operation with the Honduran Navy as part of Operation Dominion. The operation involved exercising communications with the Honduras Joint Information Operations Center, operations with a Honduran patrol boat, and providing a law enforcement presence in Honduran territorial seas.

The crew conducted a training assessment with subject matter experts from Afloat Training Organization Norfolk, Va., and completed over 55 drills in less than a week to assess the crew’s mission readiness.

To protect the public and service members and preserve operational readiness during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coast Guard has implemented strict safety measures. All service members are required to follow enhanced sanitation and spacing procedures and wear proper personal protective equipment. Prior to deployment in theater, all Coast Guard cutters conduct a 14-day at-sea quarantine, during which the crew is medically evaluated.

“I am exceptionally proud of what our crew was able to accomplish during this challenging patrol,” said Capt. Michael Cilenti, Tampa’s commanding officer. “Executing a counter-narcotics patrol in the Eastern Pacific always comes with a set of unique challenges, and this patrol, in a COVID environment, was no exception. The men and women of the Tampa took these unique difficulties head-on, exceeding all expectations by keeping themselves and each other healthy while rigorously executing the assigned mission. Of course, the exceptional resilience our crew displayed would not be possible without the continued support of our loved ones back home. Their devotion and sacrifices form the foundation for our success, and we could not be more thankful.”

Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security cooperate in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with allied and international partner agencies, play a role in counter-drug operations.

The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean is conducted under the authority of the 11th Coast Guard District, headquartered in Alameda. The interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard.

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