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Press Release | April 1, 2024

US Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton completes four-month deployment, returns to homeport in Charleston

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton (WMSL 753) returned to their homeport in North Charleston, Friday, following a four-month maritime safety and security patrol in the Western Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Ocean.   

Patrolling in support of Homeland Security Task Force – Southeast's Operation Vigilant Sentry and Joint Interagency Task Force – South’s (JIATF-S) counterdrug mission, Hamilton’s crew interdicted four vessels trafficking illicit narcotics, apprehended 10 suspected drug smugglers, rescued 47 migrants on an unsafe voyage at sea, and assisted six mariners in distress.    

While underway, Hamilton worked to counter illicit maritime activities, strengthen partner nation ties, and facilitate the safety of life at sea. Hamilton interdicted 7,448 pounds of marijuana from four drug trafficking ventures worth more than $7 million. In support of JIATF-S, Hamilton assisted Panamanian and Costa Rican partners with two additional interdictions for a combined 5,800 pounds of cocaine, worth approximately $76 million.     

On Christmas Eve, Hamilton’s crew spotted a U.S.-flagged sailing vessel with three people aboard, requesting assistance during rough seas. Hamilton sent over a rescue and assistance team to assist them with retrieving their adrift dinghy, restored their engines, provided medical aid, and escorted them safely back to Florida. In another case, Hamilton spotted a Panamanian fishing vessel’s crew waving for help. Hamilton deployed their rescue and assistance team to evaluate the nature of their distress. Once on-scene, they found three fishermen with their vessel adrift after fighting an engine fire. Hamilton provided medical aid and water while remaining on-scene until relieved by Panamanian authorities.   

“I am so proud of our crew’s flexibility, resiliency, and superb execution of duty,” said Capt. Justin Carter, commanding officer of Hamilton. “We accomplished every task asked of us, whether countering drug smugglers, responding to unsafe migrant ventures, or aiding mariners at sea. Performing these missions required expert operation and maintenance of our ship, boats, and aircraft, and our crew took care of each other through every challenge we faced.”    

Hamilton also conducted at-sea trainings with Coast Guard cutters Munro (WMSL 755), Bear (WMEC 901) and an MH-65 helicopter crew from the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron.     

Hamilton is one of four 418-foot National Security Cutters (NSC) homeported in Charleston. With its robust command, control, communication, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance equipment, the NSC is the most technologically advanced ship in the Coast Guard’s fleet. NSCs are a world-wide deployable asset that supports Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, and national objectives through drug interdiction, migrant interdiction, national defense, search and rescue, fisheries enforcement, and national intelligence collection.     

For more information about Hamilton, visit   

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.