The US Coast Guard cutter Hamilton returned to its pier in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022. Hamilton completed a 94-day deployment in the US Naval Forces Europe - Africa area of operations in support of the US Navy's 2nd and 6th Fleets US Coast Guard photo.
The cutter Hamilton is back in South Carolina, capping its historic 94-day cruise under the command of the US Navy’s 6th and 2nd Fleets.
The 160 officers and crew of the Legend-class national security cutter returned to their homeport of North Charleston on Wednesday, Dec. 21, four days before Christmas and 25 days after the US Navy aircraft carrier arrived back in Virginia.
Hamilton was one of the flattop Ford’s escorts across the Atlantic Ocean in early October. The cutter carried on to Naval Station Rota in Spain before sailing north through the English Channel and Danish Straits and into the frigid Baltic Sea.
There, it conducted exercises with naval, coast guard, and border forces from NATO allies Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, plus those from a pair of nations that are joining the defense alliance, Sweden and Finland.
“The US Coast Guard is a proud and capable partner of the US Joint Forces serving in the Europe and Africa areas of operations,” said Vice Adm. Kevin E. Lunday, commander of Coast Guard Atlantic Area, in a prepared statement emailed to Coffee or Die Magazine. “We will continue to build maritime domain awareness and share best practices with our partner nations’ navies and coast guards.”
US Coast Guard Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Arthur Flaherty prepares to transfer crew members from his cutter Hamilton to the Swedish Coast Guard vessel Amfitrite in the Baltic Sea, Oct. 31, 2022. US Coast Guard photo.
The 418-foot Hamilton became the first US cutter to call on Finland’s port of Turku in more than a decade. It also was the first US cutter to visit Riga, Latvia, in more than two decades.
“It was an honor to grow the relationship between the United States and our Baltic Sea allies and partners during engagements both at sea and in port,” said Capt. Matthew Brown, commanding officer of Hamilton, in his prepared remarks. “By working side by side with our current and future NATO allies, we learned just how much we have in common, and we were left with a stronger appreciation for our shared values. I could not be more proud of this crew’s hard work and sacrifice while serving as the United States’ representatives in the Baltic.”
It's a week of warm welcomes for Coasties, especially in Virginia.
The 74 officers and crew of the Reliance-class medium endurance cutter Vigorous also returned to their Virginia Beach homeport on Wednesday, following a patrol that sailed more than 8,000 nautical miles across the Caribbean Sea.
The 48-day cruise included operations designed to interdict the flow of illegal narcotics through the Florida Straits and the Windward Passage.
The crew of the US Coast Guard cutter Forward offload interdicted narcotics in Port Everglades, Florida, on Dec. 15, 2022. US Coast Guard photo.
And on Thursday, the Famous-class cutters Forward and Escanaba are slated to return to their homeport in Portsmouth, Virginia, following their Caribbean patrols.
Coast Guard officials said Forward journeyed more than 11,250 nautical miles, seizing 6,066 kilograms of cocaine with an estimated street value of $176 million.
Escanaba’s crew concentrated on stopping unsafe and unlawful migrant smuggling operations into the US.
The cutter interdicted two vessels and returned more than 400 migrants to Royal Bahamas Defense Force officials in Nassau.
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Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
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