The Coast Guard Cutter Bear is scheduled to return to ISC Portsmouth today following a 66-day law enforcement patrol in the Caribbean Sea.
The highlight of the patrol came when the crew of the Bear detected a vessel on radar December 19 and flew a deployed MH-68 Sting Ray helicopter based out of Jacksonville, Fla., to identify the large fishing vessel. With permission of the flag state coordinated by the Coast Guard's Seventh District Command Center in Miami, a boarding team from the Bear conducted an extensive, 16-hour boarding.
Boarding team members discovered the contraband hidden below concrete in the fish hold. With the flag state's authorization, the boarding team detained the crew and vessel pending the outcome of diplomatic discussions regarding where the crewmembers might be prosecuted.
The Bear's Command Chief stated that the seizure reminded each crewmember of their important role as a member of the Department of Homeland Security protecting our borders against maritime threats. "With such tangible results, it's easier for our families to understand the importance of our mission and our absence during the holiday season."
The contraband was offloaded and transferred to federal officers representing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The Bear is one of six 270-foot Medium Endurance Cutters based in Portsmouth, Va.