Coast Guard Cutter Valiant returns home after successful counter-drug patrol

MIAMI – Coast Guard Cutter Valiant, a 210-foot Medium Endurance Cutter homeported in Miami Beach, Fla., is returning home Thursday after stopping nearly five tons (9,200 pounds) of cocaine from entering the U.S., following the disruption of four separate drug smuggling events in the Caribbean Sea, during the month of October.

On Oct. 10, a Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Branch P-3 fixed-wing aircrew based in Jacksonville, Fla., detected a suspicious go-fast vessel off the coast of Panama. Crewmembers aboard the Valiant located the vessel and launched two smallboats with law-enforcement teams aboard. During the four-hour chase, the suspected smugglers threw bales of contraband overboard and continued to flee. Although the smugglers evaded capture, Valiant crewmembers, with the support of CBP aircrew, recovered 39 bales of cocaine weighing nearly 1,900 pounds.

On Oct. 20, off the coast of Colombia, a CBP Air and Marine Branch P-3 aircraft, working for the Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-South), located a go-fast crew dumping two bales of cocaine overboard while evading authorities. The Valiant’s law-enforcement team arrived and recovered 100 pounds of cocaine apparently jettisoned by the suspected smugglers.

On Oct. 25, off the coast of Panama, the cutters Valiant and Thetis intercepted a go-fast with suspected smugglers aboard. An MH-65 Dolphin aircrew from the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) in Jacksonville, Fla., embarked with the cutter Thetis, was launched and used warning shots and then disabling fire directed at the vessel’s engines to bring the vessel to a halt after the go-fast crew failed to comply with orders to stop. Although disabling fire was effective on three of the four outboard engines, the suspected drug smugglers jettisoned their contraband and continued to flee as several of the suspected smugglers jumped overboard. Those smugglers were rescued and detained by the Coast Guard while the remaining smugglers evaded capture. The Valiant’s law-enforcement crew recovered 76 bales of cocaine weighing nearly 3,500 pounds.

On Oct. 29, a CBP Air and Marine Branch P-3 aircraft working for JIATF-South, off the coast of Nicaragua, spotted contraband onboard a go-fast vessel and sighted a handgun being thrown overboard. The Thetis deployed its embarked HITRON helicopter and the Valiant launched its smallboat with a law-enforcement team aboard. The HITRON aircrew used warning shots and then disabling fire directed at the vessel’s engines to bring the vessel to a halt after the go-fast crew failed to comply with orders to stop. The aircrew was successful in rendering the go-fast’s outboard engines inoperable and the suspected smugglers were detained by Valiant crewmembers. Seventy-four bales of cocaine, weighing nearly 3,700 pounds, were recovered.

In total, the Valiant and Thetis, along with CPB Air and Marine Branch, JIATF-South and international agency partners, prevented 191 bales of cocaine, with an estimated street value of $127 million, from entering the U.S. The contraband was transferred to various agencies in Miami and subjects were previously transferred to federal agents for further investigation.

To commemorate the Valiant’s successful events, the Valiant will receive four cocaine interdiction stickers that will be permanently displayed on the side of the ship. As part of a time-honored tradition, Coast Guard cutters that make drug seizures earn a snowflake sticker, representing a cocaine bust, or a marijuana leaf sticker, representing a marijuana bust, to display on the side of the bridge.

  • Coast Guard Cutter Thetis is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Key West, Fla.
  • HITRON is based in Jacksonville.
  • CBP Air and Marine Branch P-3 aircraft are based in Jacksonville.

Coast Guard video by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nick Ameen.

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One Comment

  1. Lisa Stepien says:

    We are VERY PROUD of you all…..and THANK YOU for getting this junk off our streets….Stay Safe!

    WELCOME HOME!! Semper Paratus!

    From A “Coastie” Family!