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Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast returns to Astoria, Ore., after successful patrol

February 27, 2015

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Steadfast and Edisto, Canadian naval vessels Nanaimo and Whitehorse, the Mexican navy vessel Revolución and two Mexican navy fast patrol craft steam in formation off the Mexican coastline in the Pacific Ocean Feb. 21, 2015, as part of the North American Maritime Security Initiative (NAMSI).

The NAMSI Pacific Exercise is designed to establish a learning environment for players to exercise emergency response plans, policies and procedures as they pertain to maritime homeland security/maritime homeland defense.

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Rob Simpson

ASTORIA, Ore. — Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast is scheduled to return to Astoria at 9 a.m., Saturday, after a two month Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) deployment. Steadfast partook in multiple Coast Guard missions ranging from search and rescue, to counter-narcotics, to securing U.S. borders through enhancement of international relations and coordination with other cutters and aircraft allowing the U.S. to stop drug trafficking before it reaches U.S. borders.

While returning from patrol off the Coast of Central America, Steadfast offloaded approximately 725 kilograms of cocaine in San Diego. The seized cocaine is worth an estimated wholesale value of more than $23 million. The offload is a result of a successful drug interdiction in the Eastern Pacific Ocean on January 23, 2015.

While on a routine patrol, a maritime patrol aircraft working in conjunction with JIATF assets detected a suspicious go-fast vessel south of El Salvador. Using information provided by the aircrew, Steadfast was able to vector the cutter’s Over the Horizon (OTH) boat to intercept and conduct a law enforcement boarding of the suspect vessel. Once aboard the go-fast vessel, the Coast Guard boarding team found 16 bales of contraband hidden throughout the 35-foot vessel that tested positive for cocaine. The Coast Guard took three suspected smugglers into custody. This seizure is one of many interdictions in the Eastern Pacific in recent months due to an increased presence of Coast Guard cutters in support of the Western Hemisphere Strategy. The Western Hemisphere Strategy has been implemented by the Coast Guard and various other government agencies to protect U.S. borders by stopping illicit trafficking at the source.

The Steadfast’s interdiction was part of Operation Martillo, which is one component in the United States government's whole-of-government approach to countering the use of the Central American littorals as transshipment routes for illicit drugs, weapons and cash. Operation Martillo is an international operation focused on sharing information and bringing together air, land and maritime assets from the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as Western Hemisphere and European partner nation agencies, to counter illicit trafficking.

Prior to the visit to San Diego, Steadfast participated in a North American Maritime Security Initiative (NAMSI) exercise off the coast of Ensenada, Mexico, Feb. 21-22, 2015. The NAMSI Pacific Exercise is designed to establish a learning environment for the United States, Mexico and Canada to exercise emergency response plans, policies, and procedures as they pertain to maritime security and defense readiness events.

The NAMSI is a component of a multi-year training and exercise plan that gives participants the opportunity to test their skills in interactive and hands-on, real world tactical procedures. A primary objective of the exercise was to evaluate the interception and handling of suspected vessels and persons of interest in collaboration with foreign navies.

The Coast Guard is a leading agency of maritime enforcement worldwide. The NAMSI exercise involved the Canadian Navy, Mexican Navy, and additional Coast Guard assets including a Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) from Air Station Sacramento and Coast Guard Cutter Edisto, a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in San Diego, CA.

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