Coast Guard Cutter Tampa returns to Portsmouth after nearly two months of counter-drug patrol


200713-N-FA490-1962 PACIFIC OCEAN (July 13, 2020) A U.S. Navy MH-60R Seahawk, from the “Easyriders” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 37 embarked onboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG 97), transfers suspected contraband from U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Tampa (WMEC-902), July 13, 2020. Halsey and Tampa are 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. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Langholf/Released)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The Coast Guard Cutter Tampa returned to its homeport in Portsmouth on Saturday following a 55-day counter-drug patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Officials said the crew intercepted over 5,200 pounds of cocaine, of which 1,950 pounds was successfully recovered, and 3,600 pounds of marijuana worth a total of $96 million dollars. They also detained eight suspected drug smugglers who were transferred to the Department of Justice officials in Port Everglades, Florida for prosecution.

The Tampa intercepted two low profile vessels as well as contraband jettisoned by a third vessel in the Eastern Pacific.

As part of the Operation Dominion mission, they conducted joint operations and exercises with the Honduran Navy. Training assessments and drills were completed while underway to evaluate the crew’s mission readiness.

“I am exceptionally proud of what our crew was able to accomplish during this challenging patrol. Executing a counter-narcotics patrol in the Eastern Pacific always comes with a set of unique challenges, and this patrol, in a COVID environment, was no exception,” said Capt. Michael Cilenti, Tampa’s commanding officer.

“The men and women of the Tampa took these unique difficulties head-on, exceeding all expectations by keeping themselves and each other healthy while rigorously executing the assigned mission. Of course, the exceptional resilience our crew displayed would not be possible without the continued support of our loved ones back home. Their devotion and sacrifices form the foundation for our success, and we could not be more thankful.”

The ship followed enhanced sanitation and spacing procedures and wore proper personal protective equipment. Prior to deployment in theater, all Coast Guard cutters conduct a 14-day at-sea quarantine, during which the crew is medically evaluated.

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