USCGC Dependable seizes $44 million in cocaine, returns to Virginia Beach

February 26, 2019 – Coast Guard Cutter Dependable returned home to Virginia Beach, Virginia, Monday after a 59-day patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

While deployed, the Dependable crew aided Joint Interagency Task Force South in conducting counter-drug and alien migrant interdiction operations.

During their patrol, the Dependable’s boarding team intercepted a go-fast vessel off the coast of Mexico that was specially fitted to smuggle contraband. Once on scene, the boarding team confirmed that the vessel was carrying illicit narcotics along with three suspected drug smugglers. The interdiction resulted in the seizure of approximately 1,235 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated street value of $18 million.

In addition to the interdiction, the Dependable crew worked alongside four partner assets to patrol an operational area roughly the size of the U.S. The cutter’s crew worked with the U.S. Navy and Customs and Border Protection Maritime Patrol Aircraft to conduct aerial surveillance alongside other Coast Guard cutters patrolling the region. As a result of these collaborations, the Dependable crew was able to assist Coast Guard Cutter Alert’s crew with a transfer of drugs and suspected smugglers apprehended in previous interdictions.

The Dependable crew also leveraged the cutter’s embarked Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON), the members of which launched in an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and disrupted a drug smuggling operation. The squadron seized an estimated 1,653 pounds of cocaine worth an approximate street value of $25 million intended for delivery to Mexico.

The Dependable crew sailed 12,904 miles, and traveled nearly as far south as the Galapagos Islands and as far west as Acapulco, Mexico. In addition to the cutter’s permanent crewmembers, teams from Tactical Law Enforcement Team South, based in Miami, Florida and HITRON, based in Jacksonville, Florida were aboard for the patrol. Each team provided respective expertise regarding maritime law enforcement and aerial use of force.

The Virginia Beach-based Cutter Dependable is a 210-foot, Reliance Class, Medium Endurance Cutter with a permanent crew of 77. They conduct homeland security missions in the offshore waters of the Western Hemisphere, from New England to the Caribbean Sea and Eastern Pacific.
Having surpassed its 50th year of service to America in November 2018, the Dependable and the other 26 medium endurance cutters are slated for replacement by new Offshore Patrol Cutters in 2021.