The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL 750) returned home to Alameda Monday following a three month, 15,000 mile, multi-mission patrol.
In January, the Bertholf’s crew boarded three vessels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
“Early in the patrol, we interdicted three go-fast vessels over a span of six hours,” said Capt. Brian Anderson, Bertholf commanding officer. “We used every available resource including all three pursuit boats, our helicopter and Scan Eagle drone to successfully stop them in their tracks, resulting in the apprehension of four suspected drug smugglers and seizure of over 1,700 pounds of cocaine. It was quite an exciting evening and demonstrated our full capabilities and our commitment to keeping America safe and secure.”
The Bertholf mobilized its advanced capabilities that included a small unmanned aircraft system, an attached Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron MH-65 helicopter and aircrew, and an embarked Law Enforcement Detachment from the Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team. The crew spent more than 50 days patrolling the Eastern Pacific Ocean on a counter-narcotics mission that resulted in the apprehension of approximately 6,200 pounds of cocaine with an estimated value of more than $107 million.
“This is my last deployment aboard the Bertholf,” Anderson said. “It’s been a privilege to serve, especially with this crew, who have gone above and beyond in every respect to accomplishing the mission safely and effectively amidst a pandemic. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
On April 1, U.S. Southern Command increased counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to disrupt the flow of drugs. Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security cooperated in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with allied and international partner agencies, play a role in counter-drug operations.
The fight against drug cartels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions by international partners and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in districts across the nation. The law enforcement phase of counter-smuggling operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean is conducted under the authority of the 11th Coast Guard District, headquartered in Alameda. The interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by members of the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Bertholf is a 418-foot national security cutter, commissioned in 2008 and homeported in Alameda.