Cutter Harriet Lane returns to Portsmouth following Caribbean patrol

Four crew on the Famous-class medium endurance cutter USCGC Harriet Lane (WMEC 903) handle a hose during a hot in-flight refuel on Nov. 19, 2021, in the Caribbean Sea. HIFRs allow a faster means of fueling during time sensitive law enforcement or search and rescue operations. The crew returned to homeport in Portsmouth on Dec. 6, after a 49-day patrol. (U.S. Coast Guard photo taken by Seaman Santiago Gomez)

Four crew on the Famous-class medium endurance cutter USCGC Harriet Lane (WMEC 903) handle a hose during a hot in-flight refuel on Nov. 19, 2021, in the Caribbean Sea. (U.S. Coast Guard photo taken by Seaman Santiago Gomez)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane (WMEC 903) returned to homeport in Portsmouth on Dec. 6, after a 49-day patrol in the Caribbean Sea.

The Harriet Lane crew patrolled over 7,626 nautical miles in the Caribbean Sea, performing counter-drug and alien migrant interdiction operations supporting the Coast Guard Seventh District.

Within the first few days of the patrol, while transiting to its assigned area of operations, Harriet Lane’s crew successfully intercepted two rustic vessels in the vicinity of Cay Sal Bank, attempting a dangerous voyage to the United States. Diligent watchstanders monitored the unlit vessels at night using installed sensory equipment. The crew worked into the early morning hours to aid all 28 migrants for further transfer the following morning, preserving the safety of life at sea and enforcing immigration laws.

Following the migrant case, Harriet Lane’s team assumed the role of controlling multiple air and surface assets in continued support of the deterrence of unsafe and illegal migration off the coast of Haiti. The team also provided support for the final disposition of three counter-drug interdictions. The crew conducted an at-sea transfer with Coast Guard Cutter Decisive (WMEC 629) to embark five suspected drug smugglers, 1,539 pounds of cocaine, and 36 pounds of marijuana before delivering the contraband and suspects to the 154-foot Sentinel-class Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber (WPC 1101). The Webber then transferred them to Miami for federal prosecution in the Southern District of Florida.

The team conducted a towing exercise with the 210-foot Reliance-class Coast Guard Cutter Dauntless (WMEC 624), taking the cutter in tow and providing new deck watch officers with valuable ship handling practice and experience. Harriet Lane’s crew conducted a live-fire exercise with its MK 75 – 76 mm weapon system, qualifying multiple personnel in the many critical positions necessary for unit self-defense. Harriet Lane also conducted law enforcement boardings along the Florida coast while in transit to conclude the patrol with a four-day immersive shipboard helicopter standardization visit. These visits are conducted biennially by experts from the Coast Guard’s Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Alabama, to ensure unit safety and proficiency in conducting flight operations at sea.

“I am incredibly proud of this crew,” said Cmdr. Ben Goff, cutter Harriet Lane’s commanding officer. “This patrol was particularly difficult, as the crew had to work harder than expected to overcome a variety of major engineering casualties, including the replacement of a ship’s generator. Though we had a few hiccups along the way, I am happy with what we accomplished. I do not doubt that we lived up to our crew’s motto and our promise to this nation to achieve The Desired Effect.”

Harriet Lane is responsible for various Coast Guard missions, including search and rescue, enforcement of laws and treaties, maritime defense, and marine environment protection. They fall under the command of the U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area.

Based in Portsmouth, Virginia, U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area oversees all Coast Guard operations east of the Rocky Mountains to the Arabian Gulf. In addition to surge operations, they also allocate ships to deploy to the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific to combat transnational organized crime and illicit maritime activity.

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