Digital Version of November/December 2014 Print Edition
Cutter Resolute bags $35 million in drugs, saves smugglers
The Coast Guard’s 210-foot Cutter Resolute, returned to its home port in Florida on Oct. 7 after saving four drug smugglers, helping find a lost cruise ship passenger and confiscating $35 million in drugs.
The ship’s 10-week deployment, said the Coast Guard, had three objectives: training; supporting counter-narcotics activities; and search and rescue missions in the western Caribbean.
The Resolute began its deployment by participating in the Tailored Ship’s Training Availability assessment in Mayport, FL, said the Coast Guard on Oct. 7. The exercise is designed to hone skills and measure the crew’s ability to conduct a variety of naval warfare missions, including assessment of damage control, engineering, navigation, gunnery and deck seamanship. Completing over 150 drills and exercises, Resolute’s crew of 12 officers and 62 enlisted personnel, earned the ‘excellence’ designation in all mission areas, it said.
After leaving the Mayport exercise, Resolute acted as on-scene commander during a 36-hour search for a passenger that fell from the Carnival Fascination, on Sept. 24. The Resolute worked with three Coast Guard cutters and more than five Coast Guard, Air National Guard and Air Force aircraft to complete the search.
During its patrol activities in the Western Caribbean, according to the Coast Guard, the Resolute interdicted more than $35 million worth of cocaine and saved four lives after its helicopter, from the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, based in Jacksonville, FL, spotted a drug smuggling go-fast vessel during a law enforcement patrol.
During the pursuit of the go-fast vessel, the four suspected smugglers jumped into the water in an attempt to flee the scene, it said and the Resolute's smallboat crew safely recovered all four from the water with no injuries. Crewmembers from the cutter 's boarding team were able to stop the unmanned go-fast and board the vessel. During the boarding, they discovered 53 bales covered in a white powdery substance that later tested positive for cocaine, said the Coast Guard.
In a separate incident, the crew also interdicted more than $1 million worth of marijuana when their helicopter spotted another drug smuggling go-fast vessel. The helicopter forced the go-fast crew to jettison their drug shipment of 45 bales of marijuana weighing 1,500 pounds, before the escaping into Nicaraguan waters.
The interdiction was carried out as part of Operation Martillo, said the Coast Guard, aimed at countering the use of the Central American shorelines as transshipment routes for illicit drugs, weapons and cash. Operation Martillo is an international operation focused on sharing information and bringing together air, land and maritime assets from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and Western Hemisphere and European partner nation agencies to counter illicit trafficking.
According to the Coast Guard, medium-endurance cutters like the Resolute and Vigilant are slated for replacement by new Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPC). The new OPCs will operate more than 50 miles from land. The OPCs, it said, will be an economical, multi-mission ship, providing pursuit boat and helicopter capabilities and interoperability with other military and federal partners, superior to the cutters they replace. Equipped with modern sensors, the OPCs will provide the enhanced surveillance necessary to detect threats far from U.S. shores and meet the demands of the Coast Guard’s homeland security, search and rescue, law enforcement and other vital missions.