This Coast Guard crew returned to Virginia Beach with a big catch

Coast Guard Cutter Dependable (U.S. Coast Guard photograph courtesy of Coast Guard Cutter Dependable)
(U.S. Coast Guard photograph courtesy of Coast Guard Cutter Dependable)

VIRGINIA BEACH — The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Dependable returned home here Monday after a 59-day patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

And they brought home a big catch.

While deployed, the Dependable crew aided Joint Interagency Task Force South in conducting counter-drug and alien migrant interdiction operations.

During their patrol, the Dependable’s boarding team intercepted a go-fast vessel off the coast of Mexico that was specially fitted to smuggle contraband. Once on scene, the boarding team confirmed that the vessel was carrying “illicit narcotics” along with three suspected drug smugglers. The interdiction resulted in the seizure of approximately 1,235 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated street value of $18 million, Coast Guard officials said.

In addition to the interdiction, the Dependable crew worked alongside four partner assets to patrol an operational area roughly the size of the U.S. The cutter’s crew worked with the U.S. Navy and Customs and Border Protection Maritime Patrol Aircraft to conduct aerial surveillance alongside other Coast Guard cutters patrolling the region.

As a result of these collaborations, the Dependable crew was able to assist Coast Guard Cutter Alert’s crew with a transfer of drugs and suspected smugglers apprehended in previous interdictions, according to the Coast Guard.

The Dependable crew also leveraged the cutter’s embarked Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, the members of which launched in an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and disrupted a drug smuggling operation. The squadron seized an estimated 1,653 pounds of cocaine worth an approximate street value of $25 million intended for delivery to Mexico, Coast Guard officials said.

The Dependable crew sailed 12,904 miles, and traveled nearly as far south as the Galapagos Islands and as far west as Acapulco, Mexico. In addition to the cutter’s permanent crewmembers, teams from Tactical Law Enforcement Team South, based in Miami, Florida and HITRON, based in Jacksonville, Florida were aboard for the patrol. Each team provided respective expertise regarding maritime law enforcement and aerial use of force.

The Virginia Beach-based Cutter Dependable is a 210-foot, Reliance Class, Medium Endurance Cutter with a permanent crew of 77. They conduct homeland security missions in the offshore waters of the Western Hemisphere, from New England to the Caribbean Sea and Eastern Pacific.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.