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USCGC Active and a HITRON crew returns home after counter-drug patrol

USCGC Active and a HITRON crew returns home after counter-drug patrol
Archive image: U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton’s (WMSL 753) crewmembers conduct Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP) training with a Coast Guard Air Station Jacksonville MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from the Helicopter Interdiction Squadron (HITRON) while on patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, Nov. 15, 2021.
The Hamilton is homeported in Charleston, South Carolina.
U.S. Coast Guard photo.

PORT ANGELES, Wash.​ – The​ USCGC Active​ (WMEC 619) and a HITRON crew​ returned to Port Angeles​ Wednesday​ after a 10,572 nautical miles and 55-day counter-drug deployment to the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

The Coast Guard Cutter Active crew and a HITRON aircrew deployed off the coast of Central America in support of counter-drug operations.

​Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security cooperate​ 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​ requires​ unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions for these interdictions by United States Attorney’s Offices​ in districts throughout the nation.

USCGC Active and a HITRON crew returns home after counter-drug patrol
Archive image: An aircrew and a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Port Angeles prepares to land on the Coast Guard Cutter Active’s flight deck during a counter-drug patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, Sept. 17, 2018.
In addition to conducting law enforcement operations, USCGC Active crewmembers conducted flight operations training for the crew and pilots.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Wood.

Shortly after getting underway,​ Active​ participated in a​ helicopter proficiency operations off the coast of Southern California.​ Pilots​ from multiple​ Coast Guard air stations and crews from a number of West Coast-based cutters converged on​ Active​ to perform necessary training and proficiency evolutions.

During a 48-hour period,​ Active’s crew participated in​ 72 takeoffs and landings​ from​ the​ flight deck in addition to performing a helicopter in-flight refueling​ and a vertical replenishment.​ In total,​ Active​ directly assisted in the qualification and certification of eight pilots across two helicopter platforms in addition to certifying​ eighteen​ shipboard​ aviation​ support​ crewmembers.

While moored in San Diego,​ Active​ embarked a joint aircrew​ and​ MH-65 Dolphin helicopter​ from HITRON​ (Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron) and​ Coast Guard​ Air​ Station San Francisco. HITRON​ is​ a​ Jacksonville, Florida-based​ specialized law enforcement unit. HITRON crews are trained to utilize airborne use of force​ for​ non-compliant​ vessels suspected of violating counter-drug U.S. and international laws to comply with lawful orders.

«The USCGC Active​ crew performed superbly in every assigned mission​ during this patrol,” said Cmdr.​ Brian​ Tesson,​ Active’s​ commanding officer.​ “Presented with​ myriad​ challenges, from engineering casualties to Omicron safety protocols, this crew made a bold statement by stepping out with a positive, can-do attitude in the face of adversity,​ defining what it means to work aboard the​ ‘Li’l​ Tough Guy.’​ Bringing​ their​ best selves to the job daily,​ the crew​ patrolled the Eastern Pacific Ocean to deter and​ suppress transnational crime and narcotics smuggling​ while training and qualifying crewmembers as they honed​ new​ personal and professional skills. I watched this team​ overcome each​ consecutive obstacle with ingenuity, fortitude and​ professionalism.​ I could not be more proud to be a part of it.”

Active’s crew departed in mid-December and were unable to spend time with family and loved ones during the holiday season.​ However, as is typical for the Active and Coast Guard cutter crews in general, they​ came together as a family to create a number of great memories​ during the patrol. The Active’s crew found ways to keep spirits high​ while patrolling the high seas through​ conducting drills and training or​ gathered​ during one of our onboard holiday meals cooked by the Chiefs’ Mess, or​ over​ a sparkling apple cider New Year’s Eve toast.

Nicknamed the ‘Li’l Tough Guy,’ the 55-year-old medium-endurance cutter routinely operates from the Straits of Juan de Fuca to Central America conducting search and rescue, domestic fisheries enforcement, counter-narcotics law enforcement, and other statutory Coast Guard missions.


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