The British Royal Fleet and The United States Coast Guard: A Historic Joint Mission

BY CLAIRE RUMLER – The United States Coast Guard (“Coast Guard”) made headlines again after a historic drug bust. Coast Guardsmen at Station Miami in Miami Beach unloaded 2,500 pounds of cocaine, packaged in 45 bales marked as refined sugar, which was recovered from a go-fast boat just south of the Dominican Republic. Although the cocaine has an estimated wholesale value of $37 million, the staggering amount of drugs that the Coast Guard recovered is not what makes the bust so historic. Rather, the bust is important because the bust was made possible through the Coast Guard’s partnership with the British Royal Fleet.

This mission represented the first time that both the Royal Fleet and the Coast Guard combined their physical assets to interdict a vessel carrying such a large load of contraband, despite the fact that the two forces have been patrolling the Caribbean for years. The Coast Guard helicopter launched from the British auxiliary vessel Wave Knight. The Wave Knight, like other British auxiliary vessels, is manned with civilian personnel, and its primary functions are to patrol the Caribbean and carry fuel and military personnel to the British Royal Navy.

After launching from the Wave Knight, the Coast Guard helicopter surveiled a 25-foot go-fast boat travelling at a high rate of speed with four individuals aboard. After the helicopter approached, the go-fast engaged in evasive maneuvers. The Coast Guard received authorization for warning shots, and, subsequently, for disabling fire. After the first shots were fired, the four individuals began jettisoning bales of cocaine that were later recovered by the Coast Guardsmen. Once the go-fast was dead in the water, a Coast Guard smallboat was dispatched to board the vessel, detain the smugglers onboard, and recover the contraband. The United States Attorney Office in the Middle District of Florida is set to prosecute the smugglers.

Both Rear Admiral Jake Korn and Lieutenant Commander Gabe Somma consider the mission a huge success. In an email statement, RADM Korn applauded the joint operation: “This historic operation is a result of a dedication to improved interoperability and highlights the great success and commitment of our interagency partnerships to stop the illegal flow of narcotics into the United States.” LCDR Somma echoed his sentiments, saying that “this mission really highlights our commitment with our international partners and our federal agencies to patrol the Caribbean and stop the illegal flow of drugs.”

For more on illicit trafficking and national security be sure to check out this year’s National Security & Armed Conflict Symposium on Friday, February 28, 2014 from 1:00 – 4:00 PM at the University of Miami campus. The symposium will focus on the nexus between national security, illicit trafficking, and the law in Miami and the Greater Americas. This topic is both innovative and highly relevant. Miami-Dade is the “Gateway to Latin America,” and huge amounts of persons and products travel through the county, both legally and illegally. The issue of illicit trafficking is an essential one that Miami must confront to become a nexus of global trade and commerce.

For more information visit the Symposium tab of the NSAC webpage.

Please RSVP by February 25, 2014
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