ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Resolute, a 210-foot Reliance Class Cutter homeported at Sector St. Petersburg, returned home October 7 completing a 10-week deployment for training, supporting counter-narcotics, and search and rescue operations in the Western Caribbean.
The Resolute crew, complement of 12 officers and 62 enlisted personnel, began their deployment by participating in the Tailored Ship’s Training Availability assessment in Mayport, Fla. Designed to hone skills and measure the crew’s ability to conduct a variety of naval warfare missions, the assessment focused in the areas of damage control, engineering, navigation, gunnery and deck seamanship. Completing over 150 drills and exercises, Resolute’s crew earned the ‘excellence’ designation in all mission areas. After departing Mayport, Resolute acted as on-scene commander during the 36-hour search for a passenger that fell from the Carnival Fascination, 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.
While in the Western Caribbean, the Resolute interdicted more than $35 million worth of cocaine and saved four lives after their embarked helicopter, from the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, based in Jacksonville, Fla., 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. The Resolute's smallboat crew safely recovered all four persons in the water with no injuries. Crewmembers from the cutter Resolute'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.
In a similar, but separate incident, the crew of the Resolute also interdicted more than $1 million worth of marijuana when their embarked helicopter spotted another drug smuggling go-fast vessel. The helicopter was able to force the go-fast crew to jettison their drug shipment before the go-fast escaped into Nicaraguan waters. Resolute’s crew then recovered 45 bales of marijuana from the water, weighing nearly 1,500 pounds.
The interdiction was carried out as part of Operation Martillo, which is one component in the United States government's whole-of-government approach to countering the use of the Central American littorals 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.
Medium endurance cutters like the Resolute and Vigilant are slated for replacement by new Offshore Patrol Cutters. The new OPCs will operate more than 50 miles from land, carrying out the Coast Guard's maritime security and safety activities in support of national interests. The OPC 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.