Coast Guard Cutter Venturous returns home after counter-drug patrol

Coast Guard Cutter Venturous file photo

Coast Guard Cutter Venturous file photo

PETERSBURG, Fla. — The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Venturous returned to St. Petersburg, Tuesday following a 61-day counter-drug patrol in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific Ocean.

The crew, supplemented by members from the Coast Guard’s Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team (PACTACLET) and Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) transited more than 11,000 miles during the patrol. The first three weeks of the patrol was in the Caribbean Sea before transiting through the Panama Canal to patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean off the coast of Central and South America. During their patrol, the crew interdicted two high-speed go-fast boats, seizing 3,100 pounds of cocaine and 250 pounds of marijuana, and apprehending six suspected smugglers. PACTACLET and HITRON crews supplemented the Venturous law enforcement teams with advanced detection, interdiction, and boarding capabilities during these interdictions.

“Low profile go-fast vessels are typically painted to blend with the water and are designed to ride low in the water to reduce their radar signature making them more difficult for law enforcement agencies to detect,” said Lt. Cmdr. Dave Ratner, executive officer aboard the Venturous.

The crew of the Venturous also took the time during this patrol to host and educate the Coast Guard’s future leaders.

“Four cadets from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy also joined the crew during this deployment and worked alongside the crew for 10 weeks earning various shipboard qualifications and gaining operational experience that will help them once they become Coast Guard officers,” said Enisgn Katie Neubig, supply officer aboard the Venturous.

When not conducting law enforcement operations, the crew focused on improving crew proficiency in boat handling, helicopter operations, navigation, law enforcement, engineering, and emergency response. One way this was accomplished was through an event called the Damage Control Olympics, where crewmembers combat simulated fire, flooding, and medical casualties. This exercise ensures crewmembers are prepared to respond should an actual emergency occur.

“I continue to be impressed every day by the proficiency, professionalism, commitment, and adaptability of my crew,” said Cmdr. Matthew Chong, commanding officer of the Venturous. “The work they did alongside Coast Guard and interagency partners from the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, and Department of Justice will do a lot more than just keep these drugs from reaching our neighborhoods and schools, it will also help reduce the violence, instability, and terrorism in the Western Hemisphere caused by the transnational criminal organizations who use these drugs to fund their nefarious activities.”

This 61-day patrol was in support of Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S), a component of U.S. Southern Command. JIATF-S, headquartered in Key West, oversees the detection and monitoring of illicit traffickers and assists U.S. and multi-national law enforcement agencies with the interdiction of these activities.

The Venturous is a 210-foot Reliance class Medium Endurance Cutter homeported in St. Petersburg, and has a crew compliment of 76. The decades-old medium endurance cutters are slated for replacement by a new class of cutter – the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC). With the ability to operate more than 50 miles from land, the OPC will be a multi-mission ship, providing pursuit boat and helicopter capabilities and interoperability with other military and federal partners.

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