Written by Ens. Andrew Anderson
By breathing life into the steel of the ship with unbreakable resilience and building their cutter into one of the Coast Guard’s greatest assets in counter-narcotic operations, the crew of Coast Guard Cutter James recently earned the Capt. Hopley Yeaton Outstanding Cutter Award.
In only two patrols, James and its crew interdicted 22 drug smuggling vessels, seized 16,815 kilograms of cocaine with an estimated value of $560 million, and apprehended 70 suspected narcotics traffickers.
In addition to drug interdictions, the James crew also showcased tremendous command and control capabilities for all counter-narcotics activities in the Eastern Pacific after Joint Interagency Task Force South was forced to evacuate Key West, Florida, due to Hurricane Irma. By coordinating with interagency and international partners, the crew of James directed the seizure of 7,318 kilograms of cocaine by both U.S. and foreign assets.
The crew then continued as Commander Task Unit Maria after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. In that role, the crew acted as a floating command center to conduct urgent search and rescue, open the ports to commercial traffic, and deliver life-saving supplies to hard hit areas.
The James’s crew sincerely takes to heart two slogans their commanding officer, Capt. Mark Fedor, initiated: “We Own the Night” and “Keep Moving Forward.” Their sincerity is show by conducting safe operations and persevering through days, weeks, and months of continuous, high-tempo operations.
Life aboard a cutter such as James is in not easy, but always proves to be tremendously rewarding. Receiving this award only motivates the crew further in their mission to “Own the Night.”
“In 2017, James exemplified ‘the heart of the service’ through a series of high profile and compelling actions in support of national and service strategies,” said Fedor. “Through its unparalleled operational success, media outreach, and community engagement, James had a remarkable impact presenting the Coast Guard in a positive light.”