VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Coast Guard Cutter Dependable returned to Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, Fort Story in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on Tuesday after a 55-day counter-drug and migrant patrol through the Florida Straits and the Caribbean Sea.
The Dependable is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter with a crew of 76 that conducts homeland security missions in maritime safety, security and stewardship.
During the patrol, Cutter Dependable conducted three separate international and inter-agency counter narcotics operations, which resulted in the arrest of 15 suspected drug smugglers. About 325 kilograms of cocaine and 600 pounds of marijuana were seized as well. Coast Guard officials say the seizure represents a total wholesale value of more than $10.1 million.
Dependable’s law enforcement teams boarded vessels found to be transporting illegal cargo while working jointly with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, other U.S. law enforcement officials, Royal Bahamian Defense Force, Royal Bahamian Police Force and a Bahamian Drug Enforcement Unit.
In separate cases, Dependable worked with Coast Guard Sector Key West to intercept two vessels carrying 22 migrants attempting to enter the U.S. illegally.
“I’m very proud of our crew,” said Cmdr. Bob Little, Cutter Dependable’s commanding officer. “They overcame numerous challenges working with obsolete systems and conducting difficult maintenance and repairs to electronic and mechanical systems in order to keep our 48-year-old ship in the fight.”
The Dependable, nearing its 48th anniversary, and the other 26 aging medium endurance cutters are slated to be replaced by a new class of cutters.
The new Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) will operate more than 50 miles from land. It will carry out the Coast Guard’s maritime security and safety activities in support of national interests, officials say. The OPC will be a multi-mission ship, providing pursuit boat and helicopter capabilities and interoperability with other military and federal partners, superior to the cutters they replace.
The new OPC will be equipped with modern sensors and will provide enhanced surveillance necessary to detect threats far from U.S. shores and meet the demands of the Coast Guard’s homeland security, search and rescue, law enforcement and other vital missions.