Bellingham based Coast Guard Cutter returns from patrol off Baja, significant drug bust

Rear Adm. Richard T. Gromlich (left), commander of the Coast Guard 13th District, congratulates the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Terrapin, an 87-foot patrol boat home-ported in Bellingham, Wash., on their successful interdiction of nearly 2,000 pounds of marijuana off the coast of Southern California during a counter-narcotics patrol, Sept. 5, 2014. The crew worked jointly with Customs and Border Protection and the Mexican navy to detect, intercept and detain suspected smugglers. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Garrett Meyer)

Rear Adm. Richard T. Gromlich (left), commander of the Coast Guard 13th District, congratulates the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Terrapin, an 87-foot patrol boat home-ported in Bellingham, Wash., on their successful interdiction of nearly 2,000 pounds of marijuana off the coast of Southern California during a counter-narcotics patrol, Sept. 5, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Garrett Meyer.

Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Katelyn Shearer

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Terrapin, homeported in Bellingham, returned Sept. 1, 2014, after a Pacific patrol to support counter drug operations off Southern California.

Terrapin crewmembers conducted a 42-day patrol totaling nearly 600 operational hours, completing 20 recreational safety boardings and interrupting the illegal flow of narcotics into the U.S.

While working jointly with Customs and Border Protection and the Mexican navy to stem the flow of illegal drugs entering the U.S., a Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine Multi-role Enforcement Aircraft crew detected a suspicious boat Aug. 21 and the Terrapin crew was diverted to intercept.

Rear Adm. Richard T. Gromlich, commander of the Coast Guard 13th District, places an anti-marijuana sticker on the hull of Coast Guard Cutter Terrapin, an 87-foot patrol boat home-ported in Bellingham, Wash., to denote a major drug interdiction, Sept. 5, 2014. This is the first major drug bust for Terrapin’s crew, which they earned on Aug. 21, 2014, when they intercepted a suspicious panga off the coast of Southern California and seized nearly 2,000 pounds of marijuana and detained the suspected smugglers. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Garrett Meyer)

Rear Adm. Richard T. Gromlich, commander of the Coast Guard 13th District, places an anti-marijuana sticker on the hull of Coast Guard Cutter Terrapin, an 87-foot patrol boat home-ported in Bellingham, Wash., to denote a major drug interdiction, Sept. 5, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Garrett Meyer.

The Terrapin’s crew stopped the panga and detained the suspected smugglers who claimed Mexican nationality and discovered an estimated 90 bales of marijuana weighing nearly 2,000 pounds. The suspects, vessel and marijuana were turned over to the Mexican navy.

“I feel very blessed to have the best crew in the Service,” said Lt. j.g. Gregory Bernstein, commanding officer, Coast Guard Cutter Terrapin. “Every member of Terrapin performed at the highest level in a challenging environment and committed themselves fully to accomplishing this mission. As a crew, we were thrilled with the opportunity to contribute in securing our nation’s Southwest border and to work side by side with our international and interagency partners.”

The crew primarily serves the mariners of Washington’s western coastline by patrolling the waters, responding to search and rescue missions, protecting our borders, enforcing state and federal fisheries regulations and conducting safety and security exams.

The Terrapin is an 87-foot coastal patrol boat with a crew of 12. They were augmented on this patrol with a member at Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound’s Vessel Boarding Security Team.

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