USCG Cutter Sherman Wraps Up Counter-Drug Patrol
The officers and crew of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sherman returned home to San Diego, on August 26, after a successful three-month patrol conducting frontline maritime drug interdictions and training in the Eastern Pacific Ocean off the coast of Central America.
The crew of the 378-foot high-endurance cutter partnered with the U.S. Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron based out of Jacksonville, Fla., to successfully intercept three vessels suspected of drug smuggling.
Three suspected smugglers were taken into custody on July 23, after they were spotted jettisoning packages overboard from their vessel more than 100 miles south of the Azuero Peninsula, Pamana. While a Coast Guard crew was searching the vessel it started taking on water and was later sunk as a hazard to navigation. Two days later another suspicious go-fast vessel with three suspects aboard was stopped in international waters 30 miles off the coast of Colombia. The suspects were turned over to Colombian authorities. Finally, on Aug. 1, a Coast Guard C-130 aircraft detected a suspicious vessel approximately 45 miles northwest of Malpelo Island, Colombia. Sherman’s HITRON helicopter intercepted and stopped the vessel; however, the boat was rapidly taking on water and later sank. Three suspects were rescued from that vessel.
The Sherman crew also conducted multiple training evolutions critical for reaching maximum operational readiness and maintaining proficiency, including crewmembers earning more than 130 individual qualifications and performing more than 200 helicopter evolutions.
While operating under the direction and guidance of Joint Interagency Task Force South and the Coast Guard’s Eleventh District, the Sherman crew also continued to build upon established partnerships through close cooperation with British, Canadian and Panamanian maritime assets.
“During this patrol the crew performed admirably, exhibiting the professionalism and expertise today’s men and women of the Coast Guard are known for,” said Sherman’s executive officer, Cmdr. John Cole. “The ability of Sherman to sustain a presence in the littoral and offshore maritime operating environments is a direct result of their dedication and hard work.”
The crew also experienced a unique version of the time-honored military tradition of the change of command ceremony during the patrol. Typically held at a ship’s homeport, Sherman’s ceremony occurred July 18, in Vasco Nunez de Balboa, Panama. Vice Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, commander of the Coast Guard’s Pacific Area, presided over the ceremony at which Capt. Kevin A. Jones assumed command of the cutter from Capt. Joseph F. Hester III.
Hester is now continuing his career in New Orleans as chief of response for the Coast Guard’s Eighth District. Prior to reporting to Sherman, Jones served as the director of the U.S. Coast Guard Motion Picture and Television Office in Los Angeles where he was directly responsible for promoting public awareness and understanding of the U.S Coast Guard via media and the entertainment industry.
Press Release, August 27, 2013; Image: USCG