While most know of the Navy’s use in maritime patrol (U.S 4th Fleet assets are always conducting ops with small teams of U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement personnel aboard in the Western Caribbean and Eastern Pacific as noted by this recent 45-day patrol of the Cyclone-class patrol coastal USS Shamal (PC 13) which included use of an embarked UAV), and of course the ops of the Coast Guard and CBP, some states even get into extended offshore law enforcement operations.
Perhaps the leading example is Florida, whose Wildlife Commission (FWC) has a fleet of a half-dozen Endurance and Intermediate class vessels each commanded by a captain who has a Coast Guard 6-pack license (OUPV) and manned by 2-3 other sworn officers who are cross-deputized as both state and federal law enforcement officers.
These boats carry an automatic weapon besides the officer’s own sidearms and patrol rifles/shotguns.
The flagship of the fleet is the former USAF drone recovery vessel, the 85-foot, aluminum hulled Gulf Sentry which operates between St. Marks and Pensacola, out to 200 miles offshore. We’ve talked about her before.
Then there are the 50-foot Orion, the 65-foot Randall, the 45-foot Guardian, the 57-foot Gladding, and the 42-foot Seahawk.
While day trips are commonly the norm, some of these vessels see lengthy patrols, for instance this is the report from FWC last week on the Randall: (bold mine)
The FWC Offshore Patrol Vessel C.T. Randall went on a five-day patrol from Naples to Key West to enhance the protection of mutton snapper during their peak spawning times. The C.T. Randall and crew (Lieutenant Shea, Officers Araujo, Hughes, Nelson, Polly and Thurkettle) patrolled out to 80 nautical miles offshore into the Gulf of Mexico and patrolled off of Key West from Eyeglass Bar to Western Dry Rocks covering over 296 nautical miles of distance. The crew of the C.T. Randall wrote warnings for using treble hooks and multiple hooks for reef fish with natural bait; using yellowtail snapper and reef fish as bait; having no vessel registration certificate on board the vessel; and improper display of registration numbers. The crew also issued federal resource citations for possession of undersized red grouper; possession of reef fish and red grouper as bait; and possession of reef fish and red grouper not in whole condition. The state resource citations issued consisted of possession of marine life that were not landed alive (moray eel); and possessing over the commercial limit of great barracuda of 161 fish. In addition to these warnings and citations, the crew counseled and allowed a vessel operator to repair and fix damaged Turtle Exclusion Devices (TEDs).
Officers Araujo and Nelson were on water patrol on the C.T. Randle Offshore Patrol Vessel approximately 50 miles west of Shark Point in Monroe County. During a fisheries inspection of a commercial boat, several violations were found including possession of reef fish/red grouper for bait, red grouper not in whole condition, undersized red grouper, and a marine life violation of a deceased spotted moray eel. In total, the officers issued three federal citations and one state citation.
One vessel I bump into a lot in my travels around Key West is the Peter Gladding.
The aluminum catamaran hydrofoil-supported vessel, designed by Teknicraft Design Ltd, New Zealand, was paid for by the National Marine Fisheries Service through NOAA and patrols the Dry Tortugas (Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary), replacing a surplus Coast Guard Point class cutter used by NOAA for the same task back in the 1990s.
Here is a shot of Gladding at the JTF dock near Naval Air Station Key West – Truman Annex.
Yes, those are jet nozzles at her stern. She is super maneuverable and can decelerate from 50 mph to a full stop in about two boat lengths.
Displacement laden: 50700 lbs est.
Length overall: 56′ 10″
Breadth overall: 20′ 6″
Draft: 2′ 8″
Hull Plate Type Aluminum 5383-H321
Fuel Capacity 1000 gallons
Main Engines 2 MTU 8V2000 M92 1085hp each @ 2450 RPM driving Hamilton HJ 403 jets
Potable water capacity 200 gallons
Speed 44+ knots max, 36 cruising (500nm range, cruising)
She was built by All American Marine in 2005 and here is some groovy footage of her inside and out from AA, complete with an easy listening muzak soundtrack.
Between the Gladding and the FWC office ashore, Florida maintains 17 conservation officers in the FKMNS, protecting 2,896 square nautical miles of critical marine habitat, including coral reef, hard bottom, seagrass meadows, mangrove communities and sand flats.
According to a 2013 article, annually, the vessel and team conducts multiple day missions totaling over 600 patrol hours in the Tortugas Ecological Reserve.