Coast Guard Cutter Forward returns home from hurricane response

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Forward waits off the Florida coast for an MH-65 Jayhawk helicopter crew to return from an evening mission Sept. 12, 2017. The crew completed a 60-day patrol in October, after conducting hurricane response and relief efforts across the Gulf of Mexico, Florida Keys and the Caribbean Sea. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Brian Field/Released)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — One hundred crew members aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Forward are back home after responding to three major hurricanes.

The Forward was originally deployed Aug. 25 for a counter-narcotics mission in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. However, the deployment soon turned to hurricane relief as the Forward was diverted to the Texas Gulf Coast.

Coast Guard officials said the Forward responded following hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Each of the three storms hit land as major hurricanes, and left widespread devastation.

Along the Texas coast, the Forward served as a search and rescue platform offshore until rescue communication was reestablished onshore. The crew also helped coordinate the patrols and hurricane relief efforts of other Coast Guard cutters.

Officials say the Forward led a group of seven other cutters to safety before Hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys, providing them with food and fuel.

The Forward arrived in the Keys hours after Irma made landfall — and was one of the first responders at Cudjoe and Marathon Keys.

A helicopter crew aboard the Forward searched for people who were stranded, delivered relief supplies and documented damage from the storm. Work parties from the Forward were also sent ashore with relief supplies.

Officials say the Forward quickly restocked from the Irma relief efforts, and trekked 1,200 miles to San Juan, Puerto Rico, following Hurricane Maria.

Crew members delivered 32,000 water bottles and 12,000 pounds of food and supplies in the aftermath of Maria.

The Forward’s crew also responded to two search and rescue cases, and helped Coast Guard units in San Juan and St. Thomas repair their facilities.

“This has been an extremely challenging and rewarding patrol for cutter Forward’s crew,” Cmdr. Stephen Adler, cutter Forward commanding officer, stated in a news release.

Adler also stated:

Upon arriving to the areas impacted by these incredibly powerful storms, we exercised tremendous on-scene initiative in responding to the humanitarian needs of each community.  I could not be more proud of the crew for their devotion to duty and sheer work ethic displayed on a daily basis to help those in need along the Texas coast, Florida Keys, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. We were happy to answer the call, and now even happier to come home to our loved ones.”

The crew of the Forward returned to Portsmouth on Monday, following the 60-day patrol.