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Press Release | Oct. 24, 2023

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant returns from Caribbean patrol after interdicting 5,600 pounds of illicit drugs

U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant (WMEC 617) returned home to Cape Canaveral, Tuesday, following a 29-day patrol in the Central Caribbean and Florida Straits.

Patrolling in support of Joint Interagency Task Force-South, Vigilant worked alongside other Coast Guard cutters, Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security units, and international partners to conduct counter-drug operations. 

During the patrol, Vigilant’s crew disrupted illegal narcotics smuggling, interdicting more than 5,600 pounds of illicit drugs. While in theater, Vigilant interdicted five drug-smuggling vessels and apprehended eight suspected traffickers, contributing directly to U.S. Coast Guard objectives to combat transnational criminal organizations.

Vigilant operated as the Central Tasking Unit coordinating international and other asset movement to interdict suspected drug smuggling vessels, which strengthened ties with international partners and promoted regional stability and security.

In addition, Vigilant rescued 12 Cuban migrants in an unseaworthy vessel 120 nautical miles south of Cuba. Once aboard Vigilant, the crew provided the migrants with food, water, shelter, and medical aid until they were repatriated.

 “I’m extremely proud of our crew and the important lifesaving and critical counter-narcotic missions that we were able to perform on this patrol,” said Cmdr. Jon Potterton, the commanding officer of Vigilant. “It was excellent that we were able to strengthen our domestic and international partnerships and work together to make the world a safer place.”

Vigilant is a 210-foot Reliance-class medium endurance cutter. The cutter’s primary missions are counter-drug operations, migrant interdiction, enforcement of federal fishery laws, and search and rescue in support of U.S. Coast Guard operations. The medium endurance cutters fall under the command of the U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area. Based in Portsmouth, Virginia, U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area oversees all Coast Guard operations east of the Rocky Mountains to the Arabian Gulf. In addition to surge operations, Atlantic Area also allocates ships to deploy to the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific to combat transnational organized crime and illicit maritime activity.

For information on how to join the U.S. Coast Guard, visit to learn about active duty, reserve, officer, and enlisted opportunities. Information on how to apply to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy can be found here.