Written by Cmdr. D. Goodwin, commanding officer of Coast Guard Cutter Diligence.
If you live on our nation’s coasts, it is likely you have seen a Coast Guard helicopter soaring overhead on a training flight. Or maybe you’ve even seen small boats enforcing a security zone or marine safety personnel conducting pollution response at your local marina. However, there is a significant part of the Coast Guard operating beyond the visible horizon, performing missions far from America’s immediate coasts.
These dedicated servicemembers spend almost half of every year away from their homes and families as they perform vital homeland security missions. Coast Guard Cutter Diligence’s crew is currently on patrol performing these missions, protecting American prosperity by ensuring a safe and secure maritime environment.
Beginning their most recent patrol in early April, Diligence sailed south where the crew’s first task at hand was to demonstrate proficiency in helicopter operations. Working with a helicopter from the Coast Guard’s Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, the crew practiced routine and emergency procedures. Air support is a huge part of the cutter fleet’s value to our nation as it furthers the crew’s reach to perform law enforcement, lifesaving, humanitarian and military missions.
Upon completion of their helicopter standardization inspection, Diligence steamed further south to patrol the Caribbean in support of Joint Interagency Task Force South. While working for the task force, the crew’s training was put to the test during the real-life pursuit of a suspected drug-smuggling, go-fast vessel.
Working in the black of night, Diligence launched a response boat to pursue the go-fast, which had been detected by radar and infrared sensors. The chase concluded with a successful disruption of the illicit activity when Diligence conducted a hand-off to forces from our partner nations in the Caribbean who were able to locate the go-fast on a desolate beach.
As is true for all of the service’s multi-mission cutters, Diligence’s crew shifted gears from pursuing drug smugglers to ensuring safety of life at sea. Patrolling off the north coast of Haiti, the ship’s crew monitored sea lanes for dangerously overloaded Haitian sailing vessels.
Attesting that no two days at sea are ever the same, the crew was again called into action in pursuit of a go-fast vessel sighting. Coordinating with Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant, also patrolling in the area, and Coast Guard aircraft forward deployed, another successful disruption to illicit activity occurred as the go-fast was tracked deep into the Bahamas.
Despite the hectic operational tempo, there was time to recognize a few of the ship’s crew as “cuttermen,” those who have made a career commitment to serving in the cutter fleet. Diligence’s new cuttermen – as is true of all cuttermen in the Coast Guard – are a true testament to the dedication Coast Guard men and women have in carrying out their maritime safety and security missions. Earning the title of cutterman means months of executing missions at sea, earning extensive qualifications and undergoing a series of maritime knowledge boards.
Altogether nine of Diligence’s crew were recognized as cuttermen while on their current patrol, and will continue to share their seagoing expertise with the entire crew aboard Diligence as they live up to their ship’s motto of “Courage, Honor, Tenacity” and stand the watch “on guard for America.”