First Coast Guard Cutter in Haiti Returning Home on Thursday

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The Coast Guard Cutter Forward is scheduled to return to their homeport of Portsmouth at 2 p.m. Thursday at Base Support Unit Portsmouth following a 52-day mission, which included assisting with Haitian disaster relief operations.

The Forward was the first U.S. Coast Guard asset to arrive in support of the earthquake relief in Haiti. The crew helped complete offloads of relief supplies and sent support personnel ashore to provide port assessments of waterways and pier facilities in the earthquake-ravaged Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

The Forward crew patrolled the coast of Haiti for four weeks to ensure the safety of Haitian lives at sea. They also commanded a surface action group consisting of several Coast Guard cutters and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Detroit, Mich.

The Forward crew also provided air traffic control for military planes and helicopters because the earthquake severely damaged the control tower at the main airport in Port-au-Prince.

Additionally, two law-enforcement boarding teams from the Forward assisted Royal Bahamian Police Force officials and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agents in locating illegal narcotics hidden within a Haitian-flagged vessel.

The crew of the Forward detected the 65-foot motor vessel Lady Tamara running without navigational lights at night from Haiti to the Bahamas and notified Royal Bahamian Police Force officials. The RBDF asked for Coast Guard assistance with the dockside boarding of the Lady Tamara in Matthew Town, Bahamas. The crews located more than 360 pounds of cocaine and 46 pounds of marijuana hidden in the vessel’s fuel tank. The five Haitian crewmembers and the contraband were transferred to Bahamian officials for further investigation.

“I am very proud of the crew and the bravery and resourcefulness they displayed since the moment we were notified of the devastating earthquake in Haiti,” said Cmdr. Diane Durham, commanding officer of the Forward. “They worked extremely hard during the final weeks leading up to and during this patrol, and I am very proud of all their accomplishments.”

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