Cutter Waesche returns home after interdicting $266 million of cocaine during counterdrug mission

USCG File Photo

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The 126-member crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche returned to Coast Guard Island in Alameda, Calif. following a 58-day, 12,000 nautical-mile deployment to the Eastern Pacific Ocean, Monday.

Since Waesche’s departure from Alameda on April 22, the cutter patrolled international waters off the coast of Central America, disrupting Transnational Organized Crime networks through joint interagency counterdrug operations.

While deployed, Waesche’s crew conducted eight interdictions and seized more than 17,000 lbs. of cocaine with an estimated value of more than $266 million and apprehended 20 suspected narcotics traffickers. Waesche’s crew offloaded the contraband in San Diego on Thursday, along with another $288 million in cocaine seized by other Coast Guard cutters.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Bryan Alires, a member of Waesche’s law enforcement team, said, “The training we receive makes a huge difference in our ability to work together as a unit, making boardings at sea much smoother and more efficient.”

The most recent seizure by Waesche’s crew was on June 8. Crewmembers intercepted a 55-foot Low Profile Vessel with approximately 5,500 pounds of cocaine onboard. LPVs are designed to be low profile and colored to blend in with the ocean, making them difficult for law enforcement to detect.

“The men and women of Waesche’s crew performed flawlessly during this deployment, preventing millions in illicit narcotics from reaching U.S. shores,” said Capt. James Passarelli, Waesche’s commanding officer. “Their efforts under challenging and dangerous conditions speak volumes to their collective sense of dedication and sacrifice in keeping America safe. I am incredibly proud of them all.”

Known as the Legend class, National Security Cutters are designed to be the flagships of the Coast Guard’s fleet, capable of executing the most challenging national security missions, including support to U.S. combatant commanders. NSCs are 418 feet in length, 54 feet in beam and 4,600 long tons in displacement. They have a top speed in excess of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 nautical miles, endurance of up to 90 days and can hold a crew of up to 150.

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