The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Alert, a 210-foot medium endurance cutter, returned to their homeport of Astoria following an 81-day deployment,Friday. The cutter and crew covered more than 12,000 miles during their deployment that included a counter drug enforcement patrol in the Eastern Pacific and a rigorous training assessment by the Afloat Training Group in Everett, Wash.
The Alert's crew, led by Cmdr. Brian Anderson of Leicester, Mass., conducted law enforcement operations off the coast of Central America in early October. An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew and a highly-trained, fast response boat crew conducted multiple at sea boardings from the Alert, disrupting more than 4,000 pounds of illegal drug shipments. Additionally, the Alert's crew rescued six Ecuadorian fishermen who had spent a week stranded adrift on the open ocean.
"I never expected to be so involved with law enforcement operations coming right out of boot camp," said Seaman Carol Garcia, deck crewmember who reported aboard the cutter one day prior to leaving Astoria for the patrol.
The crew participated in several community relations events, while taking time to resupply the cutter and provide crew rest. While on a port call in Golfito, Costa Rica, the Alert's crew competed against Costa Rican Coast Guard crewmembers in a soccer tournament. In Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Alert's crew helped complete a restoration and painting project for a local park.
After two months of conducting maritime law enforcement and search and rescue operations, Alert traveled to Everett to complete three weeks of required training. Every 18 months, Coast Guard cutters undergo Tailored Ship's Training Availability to ensure crew proficiency and readiness. Experienced Coast Guard and Navy inspectors evaluated Alert's ability to respond to situations involving weapons proficiency, seamanship, navigation, damage control, emergency medical treatment and engineering casualty response. Alert successfully completed 118 drills and exercises with an impressive overall score of 96 percent, earning the coveted Battle 'E' award for operational excellence in all mission areas. As per tradition, Alert flew a broom from its port yardarm, signifying a "clean sweep" of certification in all mission areas.
"The success of the Alert's crew while underway and during TSTA is a testament to their skill and professionalism," said Lt. Lee Crusius, the Alert's operations officer from Hoboken, N.J. "After almost three months away for operational and training purposes, we are grateful to be back in Astoria in time for the holidays."
Medium endurance cutters like the Alert are built for multi-week offshore patrols including operations requiring enhanced communications, and helicopter and pursuit boat operations, which provide a key capability for homeland security missions at sea.