Coast Guard Cutter Forward Returns After Hurricane Response Deployment
PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Forward returned to Portsmouth Oct. 23 after a 60-day patrol conducting hurricane response and relief efforts across the Gulf of Mexico, Florida Keys and the Caribbean Sea.
Forward departed Portsmouth Aug. 25 for a counter-narcotics deployment in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, but was diverted soon thereafter to assist with recovery and relief efforts along the Texas coast from Hurricane Harvey.
The crew of Forward served as an offshore search and rescue platform along the Texas coast until ashore rescue communication capabilities were reestablished. The crew also coordinated the patrols and hurricane relief efforts of other Coast Guard cutters across the Gulf of Mexico and monitored the maritime boundary along U.S. and Mexican waters for illicit traffic.
After departing the Texas coast, Forward was directed to support response and relief operations in the wake of Hurricane Irma. As Irma approached the Florida Keys, Forward led a surface action group of seven other cutters to safety, providing them food and fuel to enable the long-distance transit away from the storm’s path. Forward’s crew then steamed 1,500 miles around Cuba, arrived in the Florida Keys hours after Irma made landfall, and served as one of the first responders at Cudjoe and Marathon Keys.
Forward’s embarked helicopter crew deployed to search for stranded citizens, deliver relief supplies and document damage. Forward’s crew also sent work parties ashore to Fort Meyers to deliver relief supplies and help communities rebuild.
Days after departing from Hurricane Irma relief efforts, Forward quickly restocked relief supplies and traveled 1,200 miles toward San Juan, Puerto Rico, to serve as the first federal maritime responder there after the hurricane cleared. Upon arrival, Forward’s crew offloaded 32,000 water bottles and 12,000 pounds of food and supplies. The cutter also deployed shore parties in both San Juan and St. Thomas to assist local Coast Guard units with the repair of their grounds and facilities. The cutter crew also responded to two search and rescue cases, and intercepted ten migrants at sea attempting to make their way into Puerto Rico.
“This has been an extremely challenging and rewarding patrol for cutter Forward’s crew,” said Cmdr. Stephen Adler, the commanding officer. “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.”