The Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast returned to its homeport of Astoria Saturday, Jan. 30, following a 45-day counter-narcotics patrol, where the crew transited more than 10,000 miles conducting law enforcement operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
During the deployment, the Steadfast’s crew interdicted four vessels suspected of smuggling illicit narcotics. Steadfast boarding teams discovered and seized 1,675 pounds of cocaine, worth more than $28 million, and detained seven suspected narco-traffickers.
Steadfast also completed biennial Aviation Standardization Training, certifying the cutter for Aerial Use of Force, and served as a training platform for tactical law enforcement units from Maritime Security Response Team-West.
The Steadfast crew celebrated Christmas and rang in the New Year while on patrol. The Steadfast’s ombudsman coordinated gifts and a compilation video with holiday wishes from crewmembers’ families. Crewmembers were surprised on Christmas morning when Santa visited and shared the personalized messages and gifts.
“The Steadfast crew, families, and friends really came together to keep spirits high while deployed over the holidays,” said Cmdr. Craig Allen, Jr., commanding officer of the Steadfast. “During the patrol, the crew displayed superb skill and professionalism in achieving a perfect detection-to-interdiction record, thus ensuring the holidays were considerably less jolly for narco-traffickers.”
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 face coverings at all times and undergoing intensive health screenings prior to each boarding.
On April 1, U.S. Southern Command increased counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to disrupt the flow of drugs. Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security cooperated in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with allied and international partner agencies, play a role in counter-drug operations.
The fight against drug cartels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions for these interdictions by United States Attorney’s Offices from the Middle District of Florida, the Southern District of Florida and the Southern District of California. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean is conducted under the authority of the 11th Coast Guard District, headquartered in Alameda. The interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Steadfast is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Astoria.