Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant returns home after a successful drug interdiction patrol

Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant

USCG file photo

PORT CANAVERAL, Florida – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant is scheduled to return to homeport Wednesday.

Cutter Vigilant left Port Canaveral , Florida,  August 9, to patrol the Western Caribbean where their primary mission was counter drug operations along with secondary missions of search and rescue and alien-migrant interdiction.

Over the course of the 53 day patrol, Vigilant was responsible for the interdiction, transfer and custody of more than 8,000 pounds of marijuana and 1,100 kilograms of cocaine, an estimated street value of $44.3 million, 17 detainees suspected of smuggling contraband and 74 migrants attempting to illegally enter the United States. Vigilant worked closely with other Coast Guard assets during the patrol. In addition, cutter Vigilant participated in maritime law enforcement training with the Honduran Navy. These types of partner nation engagements strengthen international relations between the United States and our allies in Central America.

On the morning of Aug. 11, cutter Vigilant was tasked by Coast Guard Sector Key West, Florida, to rendezvous with Coast Guard Cutters Kathleen Moore and Raymond Evans to embark 60 Cuban migrants. Over the next few days, cutter Vigilant spotted two small unseaworthy rafts with a combined total of nine migrants aboard who were safely embarked onto cutter Vigilant.

A few weeks later, cutter Vigilant responded to a report of an overturned vessel southwest of Jamaica. Upon arriving on scene, Vigilant discovered three people sitting on top of the overturned sinking vessel surrounded by a debris field of packages consistent with the packaging of contraband. Cutter Vigilant rescued the three people and recovered 68 bales of marijuana.

On Sept. 9, Vigilant rendezvoused with Coast Guard Cutter Robert Yered and received two detainees, contraband and a sailing vessel used for smuggling. Cutter Vigilant towed the sailing vessel more than 500 nautical miles to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Ten days later, Vigilant interdicted a go-fast vessel, 150 nautical miles north of Panama. Four drug smugglers were detained and 61 bales of marijuana were retrieved from the vessel.

“There is an old saying: Champions don’t become champions in the ring – they are merely recognized there. It’s about the training and daily preparations leading up to the patrol that led to our success,” said Riley Gatewood, cutter Vigilant’s commanding officer. “I couldn’t be more proud of this crew.”

The Vigilant is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Port Canaveral, Florida.

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