Crews aboard the pre-commissioned Coast Guard Cutter Midgett (WMSL 757) interdicted a suspected low-profile go-fast vessel July 31, seizing more than 4,600 pounds of cocaine during a boarding in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
This was the second at-sea cocaine seizure made by Midgett’s crew within five days.
Midgett’s crew seized more than 2,100 pounds of cocaine July 25 from a low-profile go-fast boat, the cutter’s first cocaine seizure ever since departing the Pascagoula, Mississippi, shipyard in June following acceptance by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The two boardings resulted in a combined seizure of over 6,700 pounds of cocaine, estimated to be worth over $89 million.
Low-profile go-fast vessels are purpose built by cartels for smuggling large quantities of contraband by riding low in the water to avoid detection. By design, they can be quickly sunk through the use of integrated scuttling valves, a dangerous practice that jeopardizes the safety of the suspected smugglers and the Coast Guard boarding teams.
Nearly 80% of all known illegal narcotics coming into North America are smuggled by international cartels through the Eastern Pacific corridor, an area greater in size than the entire United States. The profits from cocaine allow drug cartels to diversify and fund other illicit trafficking activities including the smuggling of opioids, synthetics, methamphetamines, persons and weapons.
One metric ton of cocaine (2,204.6 pounds or 1,000,000 milligrams) is equal to 20 million individual doses upon arrival in the United States. The Coast Guard removed over 2 million pounds (923 metric tons) of cocaine with an uncut wholesale value of over $27 billion over the last five years.
“The national security cutter gets you further, faster and delivers more capability once on scene than any other cutter in the history of our service,” said Capt. Alan McCabe, Midgett’s commanding officer. “I am incredibly proud of the crew’s efforts who made these two seizures possible, and we are eager to conduct future operations throughout the Pacific.”
Midgett, the Coast Guard’s eighth national security cutter, is sailing toward its future homeport in Honolulu, where it will be commissioned Aug. 24 along with its sister ship, the Coast Guard Cutter Kimball (WMSL 756), in a ceremony presided by Adm. Karl Schultz, the Coast Guard’s commandant.
Featuring advanced command-and-control capabilities, national security cutters are the flagship of the Coast Guard’s fleet, deploying globally to confront national security threats, strengthen maritime governance, and promote economic prosperity.
While national security cutters possess advanced operational capabilities, over 70% of the Coast Guard’s offshore presence is the service’s aging fleet of medium endurance cutters, many of which are over 50 years old and approaching the end of their service life. Replacing the fleet with new offshore patrol cutters is one of the Coast Guard’s top priorities.