Coast Guard Port Security Unit returns home after 9-month deployment to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

A Coast Guardsmen, who is assigned to Port Security Unit 309, hugs his family upon arrival on July 29, 2018. Port Security Unit 309 returned to Port Clinton, OH after being deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for nine months in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. PSUs serve as anti-terrorism force protection expeditionary units with boat crews and shore-side security teams capable of supporting port and waterway security anywhere the military operates. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Emaia Rise

A Coast Guardsmen, who is assigned to Port Security Unit 309, hugs his family upon arrival on July 29, 2018.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Emaia Rise

PORT CLINTON, Ohio – Members from Coast Guard Port Security Unit 309 returned to Port Clinton, Saturday, July 29, following a nine-month deployment to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

During their deployment, unit operations focused on seaward security, providing more than 42,000 hours of around-the-clock waterside and shoreside anti-terrorism and force protection defense security to Department of Defense assets and personnel at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay.

PSU 309’s operations also consisted of escorting marine traffic in and out of port as well as enforcing the naval defense sea area security zone around the base. Unit personnel worked closely service members from Joint Task Force Guantanamo, Naval Station Harbor Patrol Unit, Marine Corps Security Forces Company, Air Force and Army personnel conducting interagency operations and training at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay and along adjoining waters.

In early June, PSU 309 service members collaborated with Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant crew members to interdict illegal drugs approximately one mile from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay’s shoreline. PSU 309 service members within an observation post spotted a small boat crossing from Cuban waters into the naval station’s defensive sea area. The boat was immediately reported by the members in the observation post to a PSU 309 boat crew who was patrolling the waterway. The boat crew attempted to intercept the small boat, but as they closed the distance, the operators of the suspicious small boat began jettisoning packages and returned to Cuban waters.

PSU 309’s boat crew and Vigilant crew members coordinated and executed a search pattern locating a total of 19 packages. PSU 309’s boat crew recovered the packages and transferred them to the Vigilant where field testing positively identified the packages as containing marijuana. The crew recovered a total of 611 pounds of marijuana. Further coordination between PSU 309, the Vigilant, Coast Guard’s 7th District and The Cuban Border Guard resulted in the interdiction of the small boat in Cuban waters by the Cuban Border Guard.

Personnel also supported operational activities, including administration, logistics, intelligence, communications, engineering and armory to support and sustain operations by ensuring all members were properly equipped, and boats, weapons and other equipment were mission ready.

Since their deployment in October, the unit conducted 27 advancements in rank. Additionally, 40 members completed the PSU basic skills course, 64 members earned qualification insignias, 51 members earned professional qualifications and 134 personal awards were presented.

“I’m extremely proud of everything that the men and women of PSU 309 accomplished during the deployment,” said Captain Matthew Wadleigh, PSU 309’s commanding officer. “Our members answered the call and stood the watch providing a service to our country at home and abroad. They conducted themselves with poise and professionalism and cultivated strong operational relationships with Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Army service partners. Now, we are happy to be home safely and look forward to reintegrating at home with our family and friends.”

Comprised mostly of Coast Guard reserve members, PSU 309 is one of eight Port Security Units in the Coast Guard. PSUs are deployable specialized forces assigned to the commander of the Coast Guard Pacific Area. PSUs are capable of providing the Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security, DOD and interagency operational and tactical commanders with equipped, trained and organized expeditionary forces who are ready to deploy anywhere in the world on short notice.

PSU 309 was originally designated as a notional unit in the 1980s under the name of PSU 302. PSU 309 was commissioned June 18, 1995, at Camp Perry in Port Clinton.

PSU 309 has distinguished itself with several overseas deployments to Jordan (1989), Bahrain (1990, 2000 and 2001), Saudi Arabia (1990); Haiti (1994), Italy (2003), Kuwait (2003, 2008 and 2012), United Arab Emirates (2008), Cuba (2012) and South Korea (2015).

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