El Tiburon Blanco looking great

The Reliance-class U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast (WMEC 623, ex WPC-623) returned to homeport last week following a 55-day/11,000-mile counter-narcotics deployment to the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The 54-year-old 210-foot medium endurance cutter and crew conducted law enforcement and search-and-rescue operations in international waters off Central America from Mexico to Costa Rica.

With an embarked MH-65E Dolphin helicopter and aviation detachment from Air Station Port Angeles, Washington, and with additional crew members from the Tactical Law Enforcement Team Pacific, Electronics Support Detachment Detroit, Coast Guard Base Galveston, and three U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadets, she got some amazing photo-ex shots while underway.

The crew aboard U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast (WMEC-623) stands in formation on the ship’s flight deck while underway off the coast of Central America on Memorial Day, 2022. An embarked MH-65 Dolphin helicopter detachment crew from Air Station Port Angeles hovered overhead for the photo in recognition of the day of remembrance. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Brad O’Brien)

Note that the awnings typically rigged on such patrols to shelter picked-up migrants and smuggling suspects, shield the cutter’s Mk38 25mm gun, which replaced her old 3″/50 in 1994. The 210-foot cutter has a pair of M2 .50 cals on her bridge wings that cover both her decks and for use in boardings. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Brad O’Brien)

The class is capable of operating HH-60 and HH-65-sized helicopters albeit without the ability to do in-depth maintenance as they have no hangar. Note the LSO box under the smack. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Brad O’Brien)

As noted by the USCG, on her latest deployment:

The crew of the Steadfast also worked with Mexican law enforcement assets on two occasions, to locate, track, and interdict fast-moving drug smuggling vessels, resulting in the seizure of 2,747 kilograms of cocaine by Mexican authorities, valued at $109 million.

While transiting South of Mexico, Steadfast’s bridge team sighted a disabled and adrift open-hull vessel with two Mexican adult males waving life jackets. Steadfast approached the vessel to investigate and determine the nature of distress. The imperiled mariners stated that they were fishermen who had been adrift for 23 days after their vessel had been beset by weather. Steadfast embarked both persons, provided meals and medical care, and returned them safely back to Mexico.

Steadfast is a Reliance Class cutter that has been homeported in Astoria since 1994. Previously, Steadfast was homeported in St. Petersburg, Florida where she earned the nickname “El Tiburon Blanco,” (“White Shark”) from drug smugglers for her notoriety in counter-narcotics operations in the Florida Straits and the Caribbean Sea.

All in all, not too bad looking for a ship that launched in 1967.

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast side-launched at the American Shipbuilding Company, Lorain 1967

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