Stratton Returns from Counter-drug Patrol
ALAMEDA, Calif. — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton returned to Coast Guard Island Sept. 30 following a deployment to the Eastern Pacific Ocean for a 75-day counter-drug patrol.
Stratton’s crew patrolled international waters off the coasts of Central and South America, disrupting Transnational Organized Crime networks through joint interagency counterdrug operations.
During the patrol, Stratton’s crew interdicted 11 drug smuggling vessels and seized more than 18,500 pounds of cocaine and heroin with an estimated value of more than $350 million, and detained more than 40 suspected smugglers for prosecution in U.S. courts.
“Each crew member contributed to the collective success of Stratton’s patrol,” said Capt. Craig Wieschhorster, the cutter’s commanding officer. “This was a complete team effort that takes an all-hands-on deck commitment. Stopping illicit movements at sea, where the Coast Guard has the tactical advantage, starves criminal organizations of a revenue stream, promotes stability in Central American countries and eases migration pressures on our U.S. Southwest border. Border security starts at sea. Stopping suspected smugglers and bringing them to justice in U.S. courts allows the collective interagency effort to break these criminal networks.”
Stratton’s crew offloaded 50,550 pounds of cocaine and heroin, worth an estimated $679.3 million, in San Diego on Sept. 20. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, U.S. Reps. Duncan Hunter and Darryl Issa and Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft participated in an offload event, announcing a record-breaking year of drug interdictions by the Coast Guard and U.S. interagency partners for fiscal 2017.
Stratton is the third national security cutter (NSC) to be brought into service. Known as the Legend class, NSCs are designed to be the flagships of the Coast Guard’s fleet, capable of executing the most challenging national security missions, including support to U.S. combatant commanders. NSCs are 418 feet in length, 54 feet in beam and 4,600 long tons in displacement. They have a top speed in excess of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 nautical miles, endurance of up to 90 days and can hold a crew of up to 150.