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Press Release | June 5, 2024

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro returns home from multi-mission Eastern Pacific patrol; $500M worth of narcotics seized

A U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WMSL 755) crewmember reunites with family after the cutter returned to its home port at Base Alameda, California, on June 3, 2024, following a four-month Eastern Pacific patrol. Munro's multi-mission deployment included conducting counter-narcotics missions and Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing patrols. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Matthew Masaschi.

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The crew aboard U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WMSL 755) returned to their home port in Alameda on Monday, following a four-month patrol off the coasts of Central and South America in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

During their multi-mission deployment, Munro's crew conducted counter-narcotic and illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing patrols.

The 150-member crew deployed to the Eastern Pacific Ocean, where they interdicted seven "panga" style vessels, three low-profile vessels, and one fishing vessel suspected of trafficking narcotics.

The interdictions resulted in the seizure of nearly 35,000 pounds of cocaine, more than 3,000 pounds of marijuana, and more than 140 pounds of the ketamine-based hallucinogenic party drug "tuci." Combined, the seized narcotics are worth an estimated $500 million in wholesale value and $2 billion in street value. Munro conducted a bulk offload of the illicit narcotics in San Diego, where the narcotics were turned over to federal agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration for destruction.

Munro's crew conducted 200 flight evolutions with an embarked helicopter and aircrew from the Jacksonville, Florida-based Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON). The HITRON helicopter crew was a force multiplier capable of providing airborne use of force in maritime drug interdiction efforts. Munro utilized the helicopter crew for warning shots toward eight non-compliant suspect vessels and disabling fire used on four non-compliant suspect vessels, stopping the vessels by shooting out their engines and allowing surface assets to gain positive control.

Following the counter-narcotics patrol, Munro transited further south to conduct IUU fisheries interdictions in international waters off the coast of Peru and Ecuador under Operation Southern Shield. Under the authority of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization (SPRFMO) conservation management measures, Munro conducted 16 high-seas boardings and inspections of a multi-national distant water fishing fleet of more than 300 fishing and transshipment vessels, resulting in nine violations reported to SPRFMO member countries.

While conducting Operation Southern Shield, Munro hosted ship observers from the Peruvian Coast Guard, the National Aeronaval Service of Panama, and the Ecuadorian Navy, emphasizing the multi-national effort to combat IUU fishing. Working alongside the Ecuadorian Navy shiprider, Munro conducted four inspections aboard Ecuadorian-flagged fishing vessels on the high seas, carrying out the first enactment of the recently signed United States-Ecuador Bilateral Agreement.

Additionally, Munro's crew responded to a search and rescue case 25 miles off the coast of Peru, saving the life of a 37-year-old patient who had been critically injured.

"Our crew is dedicated and working hard to show the commitment of the U.S. Coast Guard in combating both narcotics and Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated fishing on the high seas," said Capt. Rula Deisher, Munro's former commanding officer.

Near the end of the patrol, Munro hosted a change of command ceremony in San Diego Thursday. During the ceremony, Capt. James O'Mara IV relieved Deisher as Munro's commanding officer.

"I am thankful to family and friends who supported Munro throughout the four-month deployment," said O'Mara, who assumed command of Munro on May 30. "You won't find a crew more excited than this one, ready to be home and reconnect with families. Munro showcased all the capabilities and versatility of this platform while making tangible impacts to several national security objectives. The crew has everything to be proud of, and I am honored to join this team."

Munro is one of four national security cutters homeported on Coast Guard Base Alameda. National security cutters feature advanced command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment; aviation support facilities; stern cutter boat launch; and long-endurance station keeping. The 418-foot cutters have an endurance of 60 to 90 days and can serve as operational-level headquarters for complex law enforcement, defense, and national security missions involving the Coast Guard and multiple partner agencies.