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Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton returns after counterdrug mission

The Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton returns home after counterdrug mission and maritime safety patrol in Atlantic and Pacific Ocean
The Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton returns home after counterdrug mission and maritime safety patrol in Atlantic and Pacific Ocean.
Archive image: Crewmembers apply the primary tie-down straps to an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton, homeported in San Diego, during the ship’s evaluation of aviation training, known as STAN throughout the Coast Guard, while transiting off the coast of Southern California.
The purpose of having STAN is to make sure shipboard aviation practices are standard within the fleet throughout the Coast Guard
U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Chief Petty Officer Jetta H. Disco.

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton (WMSL 753) returned to their homeport in North Charleston following a four-month counterdrug mission, maritime safety and security patrol in the Western Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Ocean. Friday, March 29, 2024.

Patrolling in support of Homeland Security Task Force – Southeast’s Operation Vigilant Sentry and Joint Interagency Task Force – South’s (JIATF-S) counterdrug mission, Hamilton’s crew interdicted four vessels trafficking illicit narcotics, apprehended 10 suspected drug smugglers, rescued 47 migrants on an unsafe voyage at sea, and assisted six mariners in distress.    

While underway, USCGC Hamilton worked to counter illicit maritime activities, strengthen partner nation ties, and facilitate the safety of life at sea. Cutter Hamilton interdicted 7,448 pounds of marijuana from four drug trafficking ventures worth more than $7 million. In support of JIATF-S, Hamilton assisted Panamanian and Costa Rican partners with two additional interdictions for a combined 5,800 pounds of cocaine, worth approximately $76 million.     

On Christmas Eve, Hamilton’s crew spotted a U.S.-flagged sailing vessel with three people aboard, requesting assistance during rough seas. USCGC Hamilton sent over a rescue and assistance team to assist them with retrieving their adrift dinghy, restored their engines, provided medical aid, and escorted them safely back to Florida. In another case, Hamilton spotted a Panamanian fishing vessel’s crew waving for help. Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton deployed their rescue and assistance team to evaluate the nature of their distress. Once on-scene, they found three fishermen with their vessel adrift after fighting an engine fire. Hamilton provided medical aid and water while remaining on-scene until relieved by Panamanian authorities.

The Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton returns home after counterdrug mission and maritime safety patrol in Atlantic and Pacific Ocean
Crews from Coast Guard cutters Hamilton (WMSL 753) and Munro (WMSL 755) exchange cutter boats in the Pacific Ocean, March 12, 2024. Hamilton and Munro are national security cutters. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Ray Corniel.

“I am so proud of our crew’s flexibility, resiliency, and superb execution of duty,” said Capt. Justin Carter, commanding officer of Hamilton. “We accomplished every task asked of us, whether countering drug smugglers, responding to unsafe migrant ventures, or aiding mariners at sea. Performing these missions required expert operation and maintenance of our ship, boats, and aircraft, and our crew took care of each other through every challenge we faced.”

Hamilton also conducted at-sea trainings with Coast Guard cutters Munro (WMSL 755), Bear (WMEC 901) and an MH-65E Dolphin helicopter crew from the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON).

Hamilton is one of four 418-foot National Security Cutters (NSC) homeported in Charleston. With its robust command, control, communication, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance equipment, the NSC is the most technologically advanced ship in the Coast Guard’s fleet. NSCs are a world-wide deployable asset that supports Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, and national objectives through drug interdiction, migrant interdiction, national defense, search and rescue, fisheries enforcement, and national intelligence collection.


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