Astoria-based Coast Guard crew seizes $67 million in cocaine

Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast crews discover suspected contraband after searching a suspected drug smuggling vessel Sept. 9, while patrolling international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

The crew aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast returned home to Astoria Sunday, Oct. 4, following a 57-day counter-narcotics patrol to the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Steadfast traveled more than 10,000 miles while conducting law enforcement, search-and-rescue and marine life protection operations.

During their deployment, Steadfast crews boarded five suspected smuggling vessels, seizing 3,905 pounds of pure cocaine worth an estimated $67 million, and detaining eight suspected drug traffickers.

The crew offloaded the seized contraband Oct. 1 in San Diego.

The crew also responded to a search and rescue case, rescued a sea turtle entangled in an abandoned drift net and served as a training platform for tactical law enforcement units from Maritime Security Response Team-West.

Astoria-based Coast Guard crew seizes $67 million in cocaine

Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast (WMEC 623) crews search a suspected drug smuggling vessel Sept. 9, while patrolling international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Steadfast deployed with an MH-65 helicopter and aircrews from Air Station North Bend, Oregon; Air Station Port Angeles, Washington; and an aviation detachment from Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) from Jacksonville, Florida. The HITRON unit provided airborne use of force capability, which assisted in the interdiction of four go-fast vessels suspected of illegal narcotics smuggling. Additionally, Steadfast patrolled with a counter-narcotics subject matter expert from the Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team (TACLET).

“The crew put a phenomenal amount of work into readying the cutter for this deployment and sharpening the skillsets required for counter-narcotics operations,” Steadfast’s commanding officer Coast Guard Cmdr. Craig Allen said. “Their efforts paid dividends during the smooth execution of several challenging evolutions throughout the patrol. Our HITRON aircrew and TACLET member were an outstanding addition to the Steadfast team. I’m extremely proud of the crew’s accomplishments, and I’m also grateful to the Steadfast families who held down the homefront during a turbulent two months that included ongoing COVID-19 challenges and wildfires.”

To ensure the safety of Steadfast’s crew during the COVID-19 global pandemic, the crew conducted pre-deployment COVID-19 testing, followed by a 14-day monitoring period. Throughout their patrol, Steadfast’s crew maintained strict health precautions during all interactions with the public, including wearing N95 masks and undergoing intensive health screenings before each boarding.

Steadfast continued its tradition of supporting the Columbia River Maritime Museum’s Miniboat Program. The Miniboat Program connects students from local Oregon elementary schools with their peers across the Pacific Ocean in Japan. Students learn about the significance of ocean currents and weather while building miniature boats to send across the ocean to their partner schools.

During this patrol, Steadfast launched this year’s miniature boat “Goonies” (complete with a 3-D printed figurehead of the Goonies movie character Sloth) approximately 160 miles south of the Mexican Coast. Follow the journey of “Goonies” here:

Steadfast is a 52-year-old Reliance Class cutter and has been homeported in Astoria since 1994.


View the online version of our 2021 Salute to the U.S. Coast Guard publication here!

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