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US Coast Guard Cutter Active returns home from patrol in the Eastern Pacific; one life saved, $50.8 million worth of cocaine interdicted

PORT ANGELES, Wash. – The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Active (WMEC 618) and crew returned to Port Angeles on Friday after completing a 54-day multi-mission patrol in support of a Joint Interagency Task Force-South (JIATF-S ) counternarcotics patrol in the eastern Pacific.

During the patrol, Active’s crew interdicted 3,858 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $50.8 million in a coordinated effort involving both airborne and surface units, resulting in a safe and successful interdiction.

In addition to the cocaine interdiction, Active’s crew disrupted two other smuggling events while serving as the sole U.S. surface asset in the region for 28 days in support of the Joint Interagency Task Force-South counternarcotics campaign. During the deployment, the cutter patrolled a distance of 12,000 nautical miles, a distance roughly equivalent to five spans of the continental US.

“Every sea interdiction is a challenge, with a variety of factors at every step, and no two are ever the same,” said Cmdr. Adam Disque, Active’s commander. “The cases we encountered during this patrol were extremely difficult, and the crew fought through obstacles at every turn and worked extremely hard to accomplish this mission. I couldn’t be prouder of the team as they fully embodied our cutter’s nickname, ‘The Li’l Tough Guy’.”

On April 12, Active received a report of a one-man sailor in distress more than 300 nautical miles northeast of the Galapagos Islands. The sailor’s boat was disabled and he was adrift at sea after reporting that a group of whales had damaged his sailboat.

Active diverted more than 200 nautical miles at high speed to conduct a search and rescue operation. Upon arrival, the crew safely aboard the sailor and returned him to shore.

“This sailor was lucky that we happened to be in the area; it was far from normal shipping lanes and well out of reach of any coastal rescue system,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Gordon Smith, an active duty crew member who participated in the search planning. “It was fortunate that we were able to find him relatively quickly and get him on board before the weather or situation deteriorated.”

Active’s two pursuit boats were supplemented by an MH-65E helicopter and aircrew from the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) to respond in a multi-mission high seas environment. HITRON, based in Jacksonville, Florida, uses aerial force to stop ships suspected of violating U.S. and international laws on the high seas.

During this patrol, specialized law enforcement members from the Coast Guard’s Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team and the Maritime Security and Response Team – West were deployed aboard to support their mission and augment Active’s crew.

Actively regularly patrols international waters off the coast of southern Mexico and Central America to combat transnational organized crime in the Western Hemisphere, particularly narcotics smuggling.

Active, a 57-year-old cutter with average endurance, is homeported in Port Angeles. The multi-mission cutter falls under the operational command of the Coast Guard Pacific Area Commander. Actively patrols from the northernmost portion of the contiguous United States to the equator and is critical in conducting search and rescue, counternarcotics law enforcement, protection of living marine resources, and operations for the defense of the homeland.

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