Co-authored by Lt. Kevin Connell, Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau.
What have you been up to so far this year? Ask this question to any crewmember aboard Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau and they just might tell you about their interdiction of eight go-fast vessels, resulting in the disruption of more than one ton of cocaine, 1,300 pounds of marijuana, $12,000 of illicit cash, 10 migrants and the detention of 15 suspected smugglers.
Morgenthau’s crew, who recently returned from patrol, successfully executed nine maritime law enforcement cases during their three-month patrol in the Eastern Pacific. Their success was due to their ability to come together as a responsive and vigilant crew, no matter what the circumstances.
With the countless variables operating in the Eastern Pacific present, the crew worked together to adapt and overcome. In one case, Morgenthau set out to intercept a suspect go-fast vessel in international waters after being alerted by a Coast Guard airplane. Response boat crews engaged in pursuit of the go-fast, as they witnessed the suspects throwing several bales of cocaine overboard.
The boat crew moved in on the suspects, but proved their agility and multi-mission might when the case moved from an interdiction to a rescue case. One of the suspects fell into the water and crews commenced a recovery operation. Due to the skilled boat crew, the suspect was recovered along with the bales. The go-fast was caught a short time later, and with contraband in tow, all three suspects were turned over to authorities ashore.
Morgenthau’s final counter-drug case was equally as challenging and began with a 60-mile pursuit by two of the cutter’s response boats. The crew was pushed to their limits as they spent nearly two hours in rough seas attempting to intercept the suspect go-fast vessel.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Smith, a boat engineer and gunner, was ready for the chase to be over with. He knew it wasn’t a matter of “if” they would catch the suspects, but “when.” He turned to Petty Officer 1st Class Jason McDaniel, the boat’s coxswain, and voiced the six words that would end the pursuit – “Let’s get this over with Boats.”
This encouragement was all McDaniel needed to push himself and the crew. The crew caught up with the go-fast and their teamwork led to the detainment of three suspected smugglers and the seizure of the cocaine.
Morgenthau couldn’t do it alone, however. In fact, an aviation detachment from HITRON – or the Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron based in Jacksonville, Fla. – was aboard during the duration of the patrol and completed more than 100 flight hours. Each of the nine cases Morgenthau executed was in conjunction with either Panamanian or Colombian naval forces or a little help from above in the form of Coast Guard HITRON.
“The accomplishments of Morgenthau’s crew and the HITRON on this patrol were extraordinary,” said Rear Adm. Joseph Castillo, the 11th Coast Guard District commander. “The high level of performance sustained on this patrol shows the tenacity of these brave men and women and I appreciate the sacrifices they make to keep our nation safe.”
“The results of this patrol clearly show that flight-deck equipped cutters and helicopters working in tandem provide unmatched capability to patrol for prolonged periods, quickly interdict threats far from U.S. shores, respond to emergencies and protect the security and safety of all Americans,” added Castillo.
In command of Morgenthau through the operations was Capt. Gregory Burg, who completed his first trip as commanding officer of the cutter.
“This deployment is a true testament to the abilities of this crew,” said Burg. “Everyone did their job and did it very well. These successes are due to the incredible dedication of these young women and men that leave their families for months at a time to make a difference.”
Every crewmember was essential as Morgenthau protected Americans from the harm, violence and exploitation of transnational criminal networks. Their vigilance safeguarded the security and prosperity of American citizens and the citizens of partner nations. Whether it was food service specialists cooking to sustain the crew, or machinery technicians conducting fuel transfers to keep the boat going, the crew of this more than 42-year-old Coast Guard vessel all worked together through thick and thin in order to come home proud. Welcome home, Morgenthau. Job well done.