Cutter Dallas returns home from eventful three-month deployment

HARLESTON, S.C. – 160 crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Dallas will return home to Charleston, S.C., Sunday at 11:45 a.m. following a three-month deployment in the Caribbean Sea and Eastern Pacific Ocean.

The 378-foot high-endurance cutter was deployed under the Tactical Command of the Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF South) and Commander Task Unit 44.7.7 carrying out multiple missions in support of Maritime Law Enforcement and Safety of Life at Sea missions.

Following January’s devastating earthquakes in Haiti, Dallas’ patrol focused on supporting the Coast Guard’s transition from humanitarian assistance to illegal migrant deterrence and interdiction. Dallas served as the flag ship for Commander, Task Unit 44.7.7, which is responsible for all migrant interdiction and safety of life at sea operations from Haiti to the Bahamas to Florida. As a Surface Action Group Commander, Dallas coordinated the efforts of several cutters and daily aircraft sorties that actively patrolled Haiti’s coastline looking for dangerously overloaded sail freighters engaged in illegal migration.

The cutter’s crew also conducted several boardings of foreign flag vessels transiting to the United States from Haiti ensuring compliance with safety and security regulations. Dallas’ patrol efforts contributed to the disruption of one suspected migrant smuggling operation and identification of an illegal transit by a U.S. flagged vessel to Cuba. The Coast Guard’s very visible and around the clock presence of Haiti proved instrumental in deterring a mass migration and provided important information regarding conditions inside the country.

During the second phase of the patrol, Dallas transited the Panama Canal and conducted counter drug operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The cutter’s crew successfully stopped and boarded a self propelled semi-submersible vessel, commonly referred to as an SPSS, that was carrying 3 metric tons of cocaine. The SPSS operates with most of its bulk submerged beneath the surface and is a primary method for transporting cocaine to the United States. The SPSS’ low profile makes it difficult to detect. SPSS are also routinely fitted with a scuttling valve that allows operators to sink the SPSS before Coast Guard boarding teams arrive on scene. Dallas’ successful interdiction is a significant accomplishment which furthers the detection and interception of SPSS vessels in the counter drug mission.

The Dallas also seized another shipment of cocaine, weighing an estimated 2.5 metric tons, which was concealed aboard an 87-foot Mexican flag fishing vessel. The contraband was stored in a hidden compartment that was built into the fishing vessel’s fuel tanks. The advanced method of concealment required a detailed search of the vessel that lasted three days and included shifting the vessel’s fuel load to identify the hidden compartment. The boarding of the Mexican-flagged fishing vessel was conducted under the authority and jurisdiction of Mexico which was critical to stopping this ship and its illicit cargo. The Mexican Navy subsequently dispatched a vessel to take custody of the vessel, contraband and crew, all of whom are Mexican nationals. The combined wholesale value of these two seizures is estimated at more than 122 million dollars.

“After a year out of service it is great to be contributing to law enforcement operations that support America’s security,” said Capt. Michael Giglio, the commanding officer of the Dallas. “This patrol demonstrated the indispensable character of the Coast Guard – multi-mission adaptability that allows for rapid shifts from one mission to the next, from drug enforcement, to migrant interdiction, to safety of life at sea missions. By performing these missions thousands of miles from home, Dallas played an important part in the federal government’s efforts to stop threats well before they reach America’s shore.”

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