Nation’s sole heavy icebreaker returns following 147-day deployment The 140-member crew of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star returned to the United States and entered dry dock April 8, after completing a 147-day deployment in support of the U.S. Antarctic Program and national interests in Antarctica and the Southern Hemisphere. This year marks the 66th iteration of Operation Deep Freeze, an annual joint military service mission in support of the National Science Foundation, the lead agency for the United States Antarctic Program. Since 1955, the U.S. Department of Defense and the Coast Guard have provided air and maritime support across and around the Antarctic continent. While in Antarctica, Polar Star transited through more than 450 miles of pack ice and broke a 37-mile channel through seven-foot thick fast ice to McMurdo Station to allow the safe transit and offload of supply vessels Ocean Giant and Maersk Peary. “I am so proud of this crew and their accomplishments,” said Capt. William Woityra, commanding officer of the Polar Star. “They overcame constant challenges to complete the mission and set records along the way. They epitomize the values on the Antarctica Service Medal—courage, sacrifice, and devotion. I can think of no better team to lead future expeditions and new icebreakers as the Coast Guard invests in Polar Security Cutters.” Read more.
U.S., Philippine Coast Guards host maritime law enforcement forum in Guam. Senior leaders and policy makers from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam gathered virtually and in person in Tumon, Guam, to collaborate and expand maritime law enforcement partnerships. Together, the U.S. Coast Guard and Philippine coast guard co-hosted the Southeast Asia Maritime Law Enforcement Initiative Commanders’ Forum April 5-7. The intent of the annual forum is to enhance regional stability by promoting maritime safety, security cooperation, coordination, and information sharing. This year, the forum focused on counter drug trafficking, illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries (IUU), and the strategic use of maritime domain awareness tools to counter these and other transnational security threats. “No single nation can be as effective alone as we can together in the fight against threatening and illegal transnational maritime activities,” said Rear Adm. Peter Gautier, deputy commander of U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area. “International and intergovernmental cooperation is essential to safeguarding coastal regions and our shared waters. Forums like this one are vital to strengthening our collective ability to illuminate illicit behavior at sea, promote effective maritime governance and law enforcement, and build capacity and capability.” Read more.
Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane returns home following a 50-day patrol in the North Atlantic Ocean. The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane returned to homeport in Portsmouth, Va., April 4, following a 50-day patrol in the North Atlantic Ocean. While on patrol, the Harriet Lane crew navigated over 6,559 miles along the southeastern coast of the United States, performing migrant interdiction and search and rescue operations in support of the U.S. Coast Guard Seventh District. The crew interdicted six unseaworthy vessels carrying approximately 467 people of Cuban or Haitian origin and cared for more than 520 migrants aboard the cutter during a four-week time span while awaiting logistics for repatriation. “I remain in awe of this steadfast crew,” said Cmdr. Ben Goff, commanding officer of the Harriet Lane “They answered the call on multiple occasions during our patrol, ensuring safety of life at sea while preventing illegal entry into the United States. This mission can take an emotional toll, but our team stuck together and persevered through every challenge and adversity presented. The crew shifted gears upon return to homeport and met the next challenge of readying Harriet Lane for an important maintenance upgrade cycle with aplomb. We are forever grateful for the outstanding support we receive across the Coast Guard and from our loved ones at home. I’m looking forward to getting our crew well-earned downtime with friends and family.” Read more.
Coast Guard offloads $20 million in cocaine, following at-sea drug bust near Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley crew and Drug Enforcement Administration special agents offloaded approximately 2,200 pounds of seized cocaine at Coast Guard Base San Juan, following the interdiction of a go-fast vessel in the Caribbean Sea near Puerto Rico, April 4. This interdiction is the result of multi-agency efforts involving the Caribbean Border Interagency Group and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force. The seized cocaine has an estimated wholesale value of approximately $20 million. “This case highlights the Coast Guard’s unwavering resolve and that of our fellow partners to interdict drug smuggling vessels at sea and safeguard the nation’s southernmost maritime border,” said Capt. Gregory H. Magee, Sector San Juan commander. “These partnerships are key to achieving—to protecting our citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands from drug trafficking and other smuggling threats in the Caribbean.” Read more.