The U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter, USCGC Stratton (WMSL-752) returned Thursday to its homeport in Alameda after completing a 60-day, 15,000-nautical mile, multi-mission deployment to the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea.
The Stratton crew began their deployment conducting counter drug operations off the coast of Central America supporting Joint Interagency Task Force South and international partners to disrupt the flow of narcotics trafficked by transnational organized crime networks. An aircrew and a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, based in Jacksonville, Florida, was embarked aboard Stratton during their time in theater acting as a force multiplier capable of providing airborne use of force in maritime drug interdiction efforts.
USCGC Stratton also served as a search and rescue platform in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska during the deployment. A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew embarked aboard Stratton to enhance the cutter’s search and rescue capabilities in the region. The Stratton crew and helicopter aircrew saved three lives after conducting medical evacuations from three different vessels during the patrol. The crews transported the injured or sick personnel ashore to receive higher level medical care.
Stratton’s boarding teams conducted eight domestic fisheries boardings to ensure the vessels and their crews were operating within compliance with federal fisheries laws and met vessel safety regulations.
“Shifting from the counter drug mission off South America to the search and rescue and fisheries law enforcement near Alaska shows the range and diversified capabilities of the National Security Cutter,” said Capt. Craig Wieschhorster, Commanding Officer of USCGC Stratton. “The crew did an outstanding job stemming the flow of drugs into the United States and then saved three lives during search and rescue cases in the Bering Sea, transitioning seamlessly between Coast Guard missions.”
Throughout the patrol, Stratton utilized a Small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS) for mission support in both areas of operation. Conducting aerial surveillance patrols, the sUAS provided Stratton with real-time video footage and assisted in mission planning and increased boarding team safety. The sUAS also assisted command and control capabilities for law enforcement, living marine resources and search and rescue missions carried out by Stratton crewmembers. This deployment marks the first time the Coast Guard has utilized the sUAS capability in the Bering Sea.
U.S. waters surrounding Alaska support significant renewable resources, yielding a robust fishing industry. More than 59 percent of fish caught in the United States are harvested from Alaskan waters, generating more than $6.4 billion annually. The Coast Guard is responsible for conducting at-sea enforcement in direct support of both domestic and international fisheries management to ensure the sustainability of these living marine resources.
Legend-class National Security Cutters (NSC) are capable of executing multiple national security missions, including support to U.S. combatant commanders. The Legend Class cutters are 418-feet long, 54-feet wide and have a 4,600 long-ton displacement. They have a top speed in excess of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 nautical miles, endurance of up to 90 days and can hold a crew of up to 150.
U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area