The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alert returned to her home port of Astoria, Oregon, on February 1. The Alert returns after completing a 60-day patrol of the Pacific Ocean, in which her crew seized $83 million worth of cocaine from smugglers. The U.S. Navy, Customs and Border Protection, and the Coast Guard’s aircrews provided reconnaissance and air support for the interdiction operations. Crew members of the Alert seized a total of 5,700 pounds of cocaine, two drug-smuggling vessels, and seven suspected drug-traffickers as part of the Joint Interagency Task Force-South.
“Coast Guard men and women operating under Joint Interagency Task Force-South, a U.S. Southern Command component, use military hardware and law enforcement authority to interdict smuggling vessels and bring the suspects to justice,” said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz in a press release. “This disrupts key funding sources for these dangerous criminal networks and diminishes their influence in the Western Hemisphere. Aviation forces from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs & Border Protection, and others all support this crucial effort.”
To assist in drug interdiction operations, a Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron aircrew and an MH-65 dolphin helicopter from Jacksonville, Florida, were deployed aboard Alert throughout the duration of her patrol. Primarily used to support the cutter’s boarding teams during raids, the helicopter pilots also helped train Alert crew members in launching and landing helicopters from the moving cutter.
Alert has been on patrol since early December, and crew members have missed spending the holiday season with their families. “We are fortunate to have such a high-spirited crew, happily celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve together, at sea for 32 days between liberty stops,” said Cmdr. Tobias Reid, Alert’s commanding officer. The crew received a call from the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, Jason M. Vanderhaden, wishing them well. “Between the holidays, two very interesting smuggling cases and our equator-crossing ceremony, we had a very full and satisfying patrol. But, above all, we are thankful for the incredible generosity from the Astoria, Warrenton/Hammond, and Seaside communities who provide such tremendous support to our families while we were on patrol.”
Alert was commissioned in 1969 and is one of fourteen 210’ cutters still in service, and one of three reliance-class cutters on the West Coast. Besides Alert’s drug interdiction efforts, her crew also carries out search and rescue operations, and environmental protection missions. Welcome home, Alert!