ALAMEDA, California. — Multiple Pacific region Coast Guard units showcased their capabilities Friday during San Francisco Fleet Week 2019.
Coast Guard service members from the San Diego-based Maritime Security Response Team West (MSRT-W) demonstrated their ability to board a moving vessel by fast roping down from a Coast Guard HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter while hovering above the Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast (WMEC-632) during the parade of ships Friday morning.
MSRT-W is a tactical unit specializing in maritime counter terrorism and high risk law enforcement. Their specialized capabilities include advanced close quarters combat, precision marksmanship, the detection and identification of weapons of mass destruction, and a canine explosive detection team. The unit provides maritime security for high-profile events, including San Francisco Fleet Week.
The Steadfast, a Warrenton, Oregon,-based 210-foot medium endurance cutter, has been in service for more than 50 years. The cutter and crew conduct law enforcement missions, including multiple deployments each year to the Eastern Pacific Ocean to patrol known drug trafficking zones.
During their most recent 56-day patrol, the crew interdicted five suspected smuggling vessels, seizing more than 23,000 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $311 million.
Also participating in Friday’s parade of ships was the recently commissioned Coast Guard Cutter Terrell Horne (WPC-1131), one of four 154-foot fast response cutters (FRC) homeported in San Pedro.
As one of the Coast Guard’s newest ships, the FRCs feature state-of-the-art electronics, advanced sea-keeping abilities and improved command and control capabilities to run complex search and rescue or law enforcement missions throughout the Pacific.
Earlier this year, the Coast Guard Cutter Robert Ward (WPC-1130) conducted the first FRC counterdrug deployment to the Eastern Pacific Ocean where the crew seized 2,800 pounds of cocaine from suspected drug smugglers.
FRCs are also making an operational impact in Oceania, a region of the world where the increased capabilities of the platform are proving instrumental in advancing U.S. strategic interests.
In August, the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Gerczak (WPC 1126), one of three Honolulu-based FRCs, set a new mark for the expeditionary deployment for the cutter class, by traveling between Honolulu and American Samoa, 2,300 miles in nine days, without refueling en route.
The crew conducted joint boardings in the U.S. EEZ around American Samoa with U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration enforcement officers and the American Samoa Marine Police.