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Coast Guard Cutter Makes Final Return to Homeport on Oregon Coast Before Move to Florida

Published 2/27/24 at 4:55 a.m.
B
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Astoria, Oregon) – After 55 years on the water, and a good portion of that stationed on the Oregon coast, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alert (WMEC 630) made its return to Astoria for the last time. The cutter just served its final patrol out of this homeport and will now be moved to the East Coast. (Photo courtesy USCG)

Alert recently returned from a 59-day counter-narcotics patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, helping to catch a haul of cocaine estimated to be worth $143 million.

Alert was commissioned in 1969, and is still the newest of three 210-foot Reliance-class Medium Endurance cutters stationed in the region, including all of the West Coast. The cutter will now move to Cape Canaveral, Florida as its homeport, part of the larger Coast Guard Force Alignment Initiative.

Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Edward Wargo: before returning to the Oregon coast, the crew of the Alert stand behind the catch from smugglers

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This last patrol turned out to be a “capstone” for the vessel, the U.S. Coast Guard said. During the ship's patrol, the helicopter crew spotted a suspicious vessel speeding along the waters – a small boat that law enforcement refers to as a “go-fast” vessel. The cutter's crew was alerted and responded with two small pursuit boats. The suspects' vessel did not respond to orders to shut down engines, forcing the helicopter to disable the engines.

As this was happening, one of the Alert's boat teams recovered numerous bales of cocaine thrown overboard by the suspected smugglers. Altogether, the crew discovered 4,950 kg of cocaine, working through the night to haul it off the boat.

“The interdiction is among the Coast Guard’s largest single interdictions in the Eastern Pacific and represents a major blow to the criminal organizations attempting to smuggle illicit narcotics through the maritime domain,” the Coast Guard said in a press release.

The agency said cocaine smuggling also threatens the fragile ecosystems of the ocean.

“The crew worked in the margins, and we won big in the margins,” said Cmdr. Lee Crusius, commanding officer Coast Guard Cutter Alert. “The return on investment from the Coast Guard to the American people continues to be demonstrated by our ability to project capabilities and rule of law within the maritime domain. Day in and day out, the women and men of our service are doing important business, protecting vital international interests from those who wish to subvert order.”

The Alert has performed a variety of missions in the Northern and Eastern Pacific Ocean. MORE USCG FROM ASTORIA BELOW

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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