ALAMEDA, Calif. – The crew of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Waesche returned to homeport at Coast Guard Island in Alameda, Calif., Sunday, following a 79-day, 13,000 nautical-mile patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
Since their departure Dec. 12, 2014, the crew of Waesche patrolled international waters off the coast of Central America, disrupting Transnational Organized Crime (TOC) networks through joint inter-agency counter-drug operations seizing nearly 1,400 lbs of cocaine with an estimated value of more than $22 million.
During the last four weeks of their deployment, crewmembers aboard Waesche spent time off the coast of San Diego completing rigorous proficiency exercises geared toward sharpening the unit's readiness to conduct the many operations that are vital to the Coast Guard's military, homeland defense, and law enforcement missions. Many of these exercises included helicopter operations, gunnery, shipboard firefighting and damage control, and medical training. Additionally, they practiced national defense scenarios to ensure seamless integration with partners from the Department of Defense. As a key part of the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard plays a unique and vital role in maritime military operations. Waesche, as one of the Coast Guard's newest and most sophisticated platforms, was built specifically to perform all of these missions.
“My favorite part of Waesche is all of the different opportunities our platform offers,” said Seaman Abigail Caudill, a crewmember aboard Waesche. “The varieties of missions that we perform allow us to experience new places and work with other Coast Guard assets, different U.S. organizations, and other countries.”
“Waesche is definitely the busiest job I’ve ever had due to trying to balance performing the mission, training, and actual rated job expectations,” said Chief Petty Officer Jason Garris, a storekeeper assigned to Waesche. “Despite this, it is also the most rewarding job that I have ever had. The reward comes from knowing that we are laying the foundation for the crews of future [national security cutters]. The way we act sets the tone for [national security cutters] the next 20-30 years.”
Homeported at Coast Guard Island in Alameda, Calif., Waesche, which is the second of eight planned national security cutters, is 418 feet long with a top speed of 28 knots and a range of 12,000 nautical miles. The cutter is equipped with a flight deck and hangars capable of housing two multi-mission helicopters, and outfitted with the most advanced command, control, and communications equipment.