1st major drug bust for new Coast Guard boat

Response Boat Medium (RB-M)

The new 45-foot Response Boat Medium was delivered to Coast Guard Station San Juan May 29, 2009. The RB-M replaces the 41-foot Utility Boats with improvements in performance, crew efficiency and operational availability. To date, 48 of 105 RB-M's ordered have been delivered to units across the U.S. Coast Guard. U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Station San Juan.

Ricardo Castrodad, Coast Guard Sector San Juan public affairs, contributed to this post

As the Coast Guard continues its recapitalization efforts, one of the service’s newest platforms is making its mark as a highly capable, multi-mission asset.

cocaine seizure

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Ninety-five kilograms of cocaine was seized by U.S. Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection officers working for the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force. Photo courtesy of Customs and Border Protection.

The 45-foot Response Boat-Medium conducted its first major drug interdiction a few weeks ago aiming to not only complement the Coast Guard’s ability to intercept suspect go-fast vessels but also to put a dent in counter drug operations.

When U.S. Customs and Border Protection Caribbean Air and Marine Branch surveillance aircraft detected an 18-foot yola traveling towards Puerto Rico without any navigation lights on the evening of January 30, the Coast Guard launched Station San Juan’s RB-M and Coast Guard Cutter Matinicus to intercept the suspect vessel.

First on scene and being directed by a CBP helicopter, the RB-M approached the suspect vessel as the passengers aboard began to throw cargo overboard. Upon intercept, the RB-M crew embarked the two Dominicans, dewatered the unstable boat to prevent it from sinking, and recovered two suitcases of contraband from the water. After a first-light search, the Matinicus crew recovered one other suitcase. A field test sample indicated that the suitcases contained cocaine.

Working jointly with Caribbean Corridor Strike Force partners, the custody of the two Dominicans and the 95 bricks of cocaine were transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations agents for further investigations Jan. 31.

RBM decal

SAs part of a time-honored tradition, a “Snowflake” decal was placed on Station San Juan’s RB-M on Feb. 14, representing the station’s cocaine interdiction. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ricardo Castrodad.

“The 45-foot RB-M has continued to exceed all of our expectations,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Robert Pump, Station San Juan officer-in-charge. “This interdiction is one more example of the amount of utility that was designed into this boat. The designers and builders should be proud that their efforts have resulted in an outstanding multi-mission platform that will capably safeguard our maritime domain.”

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