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Coast Guard Cutter Northland returns home on Independence day

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Posted at 8:30 PM, Jul 04, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-04 20:30:26-04

Portsmouth, Va. – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Northland arrived back in Portsmouth Thursday in time for 4th of July festivities following a successful two month patrol in counter-drug, alien migrant interdiction operations and search and rescue.

Maintaining a visible presence off the coast of Haiti, Northland deterred smugglers from transporting drugs and illegal migrants and from committing other illicit activities.  During the cutter’s two-month patrol, there were no reports of illegal migrants departing Haiti by sea, which undoubtedly saved lives as smugglers’ vessels are commonly overloaded and unseaworthy.

Northland’s deployment highlights include:

  • Rescuing and helping the stranded Haitian merchant vessel Hunter on June 13, adrift due to an engine casualty.  Northland’s crew provided fresh water and food to the 15-member crew and created a customized rig to safely tow the vessel.  After an intense electrical storm prevented turnover of the vessel to the Haitian Coast Guard, Northland and the Charleston, S.C.-based Cutter Oak’s crews safely anchored Hunter in Cap Haitien, Haiti, and transferred the crewmembers ashore.
  • Haitian merchant vessel Aisha was found adrift with five crewmembers aboard. The Northland guided its safe anchoring along the north coast of Haiti.  Northland and other Coast Guard units monitored the Aisha until it could arrange repairs and a tow to Cap-Haitien.
  • Working with Alameda, Calif.,-based National Security Cutter Bertholf, Northland transported a seizure of over 1,250 lbs. of cocaine from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, valued conservatively at $19 million. The contraband was offloaded in Miami Monday transferring its custody to the DEA.

“Homecoming is so much sweeter to be back on the 4th of July,” said Cmdr. Holly Harrison, Northland’s commanding officer. “After an eventful patrol, being back home makes us appreciate the success of our missions, being with our supportive families and friends and, most importantly, the dedication of our crews who serve their communities and their country.”

“I’m very proud of our hard-working crew,” said Lt. Cmdr. Michael D. Sharp, Northland’s executive officer. “With each successful drug bust and search and rescue case, it brings to fruition the relevance of homeland security and national defense missions: we are keeping drugs off the street and helping to save lives.”