52-Year-Old Coast Guard Cutter Seizes $67M in Cocaine

Steadfast's crew discovers contraband under the deck of an intercepted boat (Image courtesy USCG)

Published Oct 11, 2020 11:32 AM by U.S. Coast Guard News

On Sunday, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast returned home from a 57-day counter-narcotics patrol to the Eastern Pacific Ocean. During their deployment, Steadfast crews boarded five suspected smuggling vessels, seizing 3,900 pounds of pure cocaine worth an estimated $67 million, and detaining eight suspected drug traffickers. The crew offloaded the seized contraband in San Diego on October 1.

The crew also responded to a search and rescue case, rescued a sea turtle entangled in an abandoned drift net and served as a training platform for tactical law enforcement units from Maritime Security Response Team-West.

Steadfast deployed with an MH-65 helicopter and an aviation detachment from the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON), which assisted in the interdiction of four go-fast vessels suspected of illegal narcotics smuggling. Additionally, Steadfast patrolled with a counter-narcotics subject matter expert from the Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team (TACLET).

Images courtesy USCG

“The crew put a phenomenal amount of work into readying the cutter for this deployment and sharpening the skillsets required for counter-narcotics operations,” said Cmdr. Craig Allen, Steadfast’s commanding officer. “I’m extremely proud of the crew’s accomplishments, and I’m also grateful to the Steadfast families who held down the homefront during a turbulent two months that included ongoing COVID-19 challenges and wildfires.”

To ensure the safety of Steadfast’s crew during the COVID-19 global pandemic, the crew conducted pre-deployment COVID-19 testing, followed by a 14-day monitoring period. Throughout their patrol, Steadfast’s crew maintained strict health precautions during all interactions with the public, including wearing N95 masks and undergoing intensive health screenings before each boarding.

Steadfast is a 52-year-old Reliance Class cutter and has been homeported in Astoria since 1994.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.