The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Diligence has returned to its homeport in Wilmington following a 45-day patrol, during which the crew helped intercept several hundred kilograms of cocaine from being smuggled into the United States.
The Diligence and its crew arrived in Wilmington Saturday after conducting several operations in the Caribbean Sea, according to a news release from the Coast Guard. The Diligence crew conducted search and rescue operations off the west coast of Cuba and conducted drug interdiction operations in the vicinity of Colombia and Panama.
Throughout the patrol, the crew of the Diligence provided operational support to the Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) South in the Western Caribbean Sea. In concert with JIATF South, the Coast Guard works alongside interagency and international partners to prevent and respond to illegal maritime migration and narcotics smuggling in the Caribbean Sea.
Law enforcement personnel from the Diligence worked with the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Spencer — homeported in Boston — to stop a vessel smuggling narcotics. The crew helped prevent more than 700 kilograms of cocaine, worth more than $23 million, from being delivered to the United States.
The crew also diverted from their patrol to conduct a search and rescue mission based on a distress signal from a sailboat between Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and the west coast of Cuba. A team from the Diligence boarded the sailboat and learned the boat master was unable to steer or sail at the time.
Engineers from the Diligence repaired the boat’s autopilot system, while the corpsman assessed the master’s health with the assistance of a shore-based Coast Guard flight surgeon. The sailboat master continued on his journey, and the Diligence crew returned to their law enforcement mission.
When not conducting law enforcement activities, the crew of the Diligence focused on training in damage control, boat operations, engineering casualty control and ship handling for new crewmembers to complete their required shipboard qualifications.
In anticipation of Aviation Standardization — a three-day assessment of the Diligence crew’s flight operations capabilities scheduled for early October — the crew practiced flight operations the first evening underway.
A helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Savannah in Savannah, Georgia, met the cutter crew to conduct deck landings, helicopter in-flight refueling and vertical replenishment exercises during which a helicopter crew picks up or delivers cargo on the flight deck without landing.
Following the return to Wilmington, the crew of the Diligence will settle in to conduct maintenance.
The Coast Guard Cutter Diligence is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter with a crew of about 80 Coast Guard members. The cutter’s primary missions consist of counter drug and migrant interdiction, enforcing federal fishery laws and conducting search and rescue operations.