ALAMEDA -- The Coast Guard Cutter Stratton returned home to Alameda after its crew saved three lives during a 60-day deployment that covered 15,000 nautical miles and stretched from the Eastern Pacific to the Bering Sea.
The mission marked the first time the Coast Guard used a drone -- or "Small Unmanned Aerial System" -- as part of its effort to protect mariners and support law enforcement in the Bering Sea.
The Stratton was initially deployed to carry out anti-narcotics operations off the coast of Central America, where an aircrew and a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and crew based out of Jacksonville, Fla., were aboard the ship.
During its time in the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska, another helicopter and crew were aboard and helped saved three lives as a result of medical evacuations from three different vessels.
The Stratton's crew also boarded eight American boats to make sure they were within compliance with federal fisheries laws and met vessel safety regulations.
"Shifting from the counter-drug mission off South America to the search and rescue and fisheries law enforcement near Alaska shows the range and diversified capabilities of the National Security Cutter," said Capt. Craig Wieschhorster, Stratton's commanding officer.
"The crew did an outstanding job stemming the flow of drugs into the United States and then saved three lives during search and rescue cases in the Bering Sea, transitioning seamlessly between Coast Guard missions," he said.
The Stratton is one of the Legend Class National Security Cutters, which are 418 feet long, 54 feet wide and have a 4,600 long-ton displacement. They have a top speed in excess of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 nautical miles, and can be at sea for up to 90 days and can hold a crew of up to 150.
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