Coast Guard Forces Begin Journey Home

Wednesday, May 28, 2003
United States Coast Guard forces assigned to the Mediterranean region departed Rota, Spain Thursday on their trans-Atlantic journey home following their efforts as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. The 378-ft. Coast Guard Cutter Dallas, homeported in Charleston, S.C., and four patrol boats; the CGCs Pea Island and Knight Island homeported in St. Petersburg, Fla.; the CGC Bainbridge Island homeported in Sandy Hook, N.J. and the CGC Grand Isle from Gloucester, Mass., will make several port calls during their transit home before arriving in Norfolk, Va., June 11. The return transit marks the first time 110-ft. patrol boats have sailed across the Atlantic Ocean. To get to the Mediterranean, the patrol boats were carried aboard a commercial freight ship. While assigned to the Mediterranean, the Dallas escorted aircraft carriers north of the Suez Canal, conducted Maritime Interdiction Operations off the coast of Lebanon and Syria, boarded vessels as directed by the Sixth Fleet; acted as plane guard for returning fighter jets had pilot rescues been necessary. During a major sandstorm when the Roosevelt’s automatic glide slope landing system was inoperable, Dallas provided an artificial horizon while transiting beneath the carrier landing deck allowing 50 aircraft to return safely to the carrier. Additionally, Dallas escorted Military Sealift Command vessels transporting the Army’s 4th Infantry equipment bound for the Persian Gulf. The four patrol boats were deployed to the Mediterranean to be used had a northern front opened in Turkey. Although that front never happened, the patrol boat crews were trained and ready to assist the operational commander as needed. While there, crews worked with Command Sixth Fleet operational personnel, other U.S. Navy teams and SEAL members to develop a training plan for Marine Interdiction Operations (MIO). The four patrol boats assigned to the European Command, and the CGC Dallas were only a part of the Coast Guard assets deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, the President’s global war on terrorism and future contingencies. Additionally, four other patrol boats, the CGC Boutwell from Alameda, Calif., the CGC Walnut from Honolulu, four Port Security Units and a number of support unit personnel were deployed to the theater of operations for Operation Enduring/Iraqi Freedom. A Welcome Home ceremony will take place at Norfolk Waterfront Park June 11 upon the cutters return.

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