The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Pinckney (DDG 91) with embarked U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) team conducts enhanced counter narcotics operations May 14. The Pinckney and embarked LEDET recovered an estimated 1,400 kilograms of cocaine. Pinckney is deployed to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes counter illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

‘A Seal Around the Ship’: Coast Guard Crews Work to Avoid Catching COVID-19 on Drug Busts

As part of U.S. Southern Command’s counter-drug operations surge, the Coast Guard national security cutter James headed to the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific in late March, carrying the usual complement of supplies for a 90-day deployment, plus a boatload of face masks, latex gloves, sanitizer, trash bags and other germ-fighting necessities.

Crews that handle bales of cocaine and marijuana usually take precautions with contraband, wearing gloves and minimizing contact with suspect traffickers. But deployment during the COVID-19 pandemic requires protective measures and a decontamination process few could have imagined during the Charleston, South Carolina-based cutter’s pre-deployment workups, said Capt. Jeffrey Randall, the James’ commanding officer.

No cutter wants to be the Coast Guard’s version of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt or Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Read more at Military.com

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