US vessel sent to patrol offshore Guyana intercepts drug traffickers

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Guyana’s partnership with the United States Navy has borne early fruit even before the Americans officially start their mission along Guyana’s coast, as the USCGC Stone intercepted a vessel in the process of trafficking drugs.

According to information released by the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS), the vessel while en route to Guyana to conduct its joint patrols in keeping with Operation Southern Cross came across the vessel south of the Dominican Republic.

The USCGC Stone patrolling offshore Guyana
It was explained that acting on information from a maritime patrol aircraft, the USCGC Stone approached the vessel and used its US Coast Guard authority to stop them. Another ship, the USCGC Raymond Evans, subsequently arrived on the scene.

“A Coast Guard boarding team from the Raymond Evans conducted a law enforcement boarding, testing packages found aboard the vessel, revealing bales of cocaine estimated at 2148.5 lbs (970 kgs) total,” DVIDS said in a statement.

“Stone’s crew remained on scene during the search of the vessel to assist if needed. Following the boarding, the Raymond Evans crew took possession of the contraband and detained the four suspected narcotics trafficking vessel members. They are working with the US Coast Guard 7th District and Department of Justice on the next steps.”

The DVIDS statement included quotes from senior officials in the US Navy. Vice Admiral Steven Poilin, who commands the US Coast Guard Atlantic Area, was unsurprised at the ship’s efficiency during the drug bust. According to him, it is what the Captain, the crew, and the Coast Guard prepare for.

“USCGC Stone is a highly-capable multipurpose platform and ready to conduct missions to save lives, support lawful activities on the high seas, and highlight and build Coast Guard partnerships with other nations,” DVIDS said.

“Stone’s crew is exhibiting the highest professional competence, reinforcing that Stone is well-suited to help our partners in the South Atlantic expose and address illicit activities in the maritime domain. These transnational criminal activities – be it illegal fishing or the trafficking of people, drugs, money, etc – challenge global security, and only together can we combat these threats.”

Meanwhile, USCGC Stone’s commanding officer, Captain Adam Morrison expressed pride at the work done by his crew and their ability to make an immediate impact on their first patrol. According to him, the crew looks forward to working with the Guyana Coast Guard. And Rear Admiral Andrew Tiongson, the Director of Operations at the US Southern Command, was optimistic about the work USCGC Stone will continue to do.

“Our teammates aboard USCGC Stone are helping keep our shared neighbourhood – the Western Hemisphere – safe, successfully stopping illicit narcotics smuggling, while continuing their equally-important mission to counter predatory and irresponsible IUU [illegal, unregulated, and unreported] fishing, a growing threat to our partner nations’ sovereignty and our collective regional security,” Tiongson said.

It was announced recently that in keeping with efforts to increase maritime security in the Atlantic Ocean, the US Navy has sent the USCGC Stone, a brand-new cutter, to patrol offshore a number of countries in the Region. It has already started patrolling offshore Guyana.

The USCGC Stone is a Legend-class cutter, considered one of the most technologically-advanced ships in the US Coast Guard’s fleet with a range of 12,000 nautical miles. This class of cutters usually measure 127 metres, with a 54-foot beam (width at the widest point of the ship) and can reach a top speed of over 28 knots.

The ship will be on a multi-month deployment to the South Atlantic Ocean and will be tasked with countering illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing, while also strengthening relationships for maritime sovereignty and security throughout the Region