PORT ANGELES, WA — The crew aboard a 53-year-old Coast Guard cutter returned home to Port Angeles on Friday following a counter-drug patrol in international waters off the coast of Central America.
The 75-member crew aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Active deployed to the Eastern Pacific Ocean where they intercepted three “panga” style vessels and one pleasure craft, resulting in the seizure of more than three tons of illicit narcotics worth an estimated $95 million in wholesale value. The crew also apprehended 11 suspected drug smugglers who will be prosecuted in the United States. The seized drugs were turned over to federal agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration for destruction. Vice Adm. Fred Midgette, commander, U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area, had this to say of the crew:
The crew of Active should be proud of all they’ve accomplished to combat dangerous transnational criminal organizations that spread violence and instability throughout the Western Hemisphere. Their ability to complete the mission on this aging platform is a testament their abilities as cuttermen and Devotion to Duty as Coast Guard women and men.
The Active is a Medium Endurance Cutter (MEC) and is currently operating beyond its expected 40-year service life. In addition to conducting Coast Guard law enforcement missions, Active’s crew conducted deck landing qualifications with local Coast Guard air stations to provide training for the pilots and Active’s crew, giving members the opportunity to increase their helicopter operational proficiency for future missions. Active’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Chris German, had this to say of the ship and the crew:
I’m incredibly proud of this crew and their accomplishments. The success of this patrol is a testament to their hard work and dedication. Just to keep a 53-year-old ship in prime condition is a feat in and of itself, and they have done that and much more. As they spend some well-deserved down time with their families, they can rest assured that they’ve made a difference by preventing this poison from reaching our streets, and that they’ve taken some of the profits out of the pockets of transnational organized crime networks.
Despite aging platforms, MEC crews continue to patrol the drug transit zone in the Pacific Ocean near Central and South America with great success. In fiscal year 2017, the Coast Guard removed more than 493,000 pounds of cocaine worth more than $6.6 billion. This was a new record for the service, after seizing 443,000 pounds of cocaine in fiscal year 2016.