ST PETERSBURG, USA — The crew of the US Coast Guard Cutter Resolute, a 210-foot medium endurance cutter, homeported in St Petersburg, was scheduled to offload this week recovered contraband from a self propelled semi submersible (SPSS) that scuttled itself in the Western Caribbean Sea during the crew’s five-week patrol.
Operating in the Caribbean in support of JIATF-S Operation Martillio, the crew of the Resolute aided in the multi-national disruption of the transport by the self-propelled semi-submersible northeast of Boca Del Toro, Panama, on December 4.
Working alongside partners from Canada, Costa Rica and Panama, the Resolute crew responded to a report of the SPSS, which scuttled upon detection, leaving three people in the water in the middle of the night. The first surface asset on-scene, a Costa Rican patrol boat, recovered the suspected drug smugglers from the water and transferred custody to Panamanian law enforcement officials for further prosecution.
Resolute’s smallboat crew worked with its embarked helicopter to locate and recover additional contraband and debris from the SPSS. Air support was also provided by Canadian and other US aircraft.
“The US Coast Guard greatly appreciates the support and cooperation of the Canadian, Costa Rican and Panamanian authorities as we worked together to disrupt the transport of illegal narcotics and successfully prevent tons of cocaine from reaching our streets and neighborhoods,” said Capt. Brendan McPherson, 7th Coast Guard District chief of enforcement.
SPSS vessels are used regularly to transport illegal narcotics in the Eastern Pacific, and this interdiction is the sixth interdiction of an SPSS in the Caribbean. The Coast Guard’s first interdiction of a drug smuggling SPSS vessel in the Western Caribbean Sea occurred July 13, 2011.
This interdiction was carried out as part of Operation Martillo, which is one component of the United States government’s whole-of-government approach to countering the use of the Central American littorals as transshipment routes for illicit drugs, weapons, and cash. Operation Martillo is an international operation focused on sharing information and bringing together air, land, and maritime assets from the US Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and Western Hemisphere and European partner nation agencies to counter illicit trafficking.
Medium endurance cutters like the Resolute are slated for replacement by new Offshore Patrol Cutters. The new OPCs will operate more than 50 miles from land, carrying out the Coast Guard’s maritime security and safety activities in support of national interests. The OPC will be an economical, multi-mission ship, providing pursuit boat and helicopter capabilities and interoperability with other military and federal partners, superior to the cutters they replace. Equipped with modern sensors, the OPCs will provide the enhanced surveillance necessary to detect threats far from US shores and meet the demands of the Coast Guard’s homeland security, search and rescue, law enforcement, and other vital missions.