Royal Canadian Navy and United States Coast Guard Teamwork Key For Success in Countering Illicit trafficking at Sea

By Lt(N) Blake Patterson, Public Affairs Officer, Op CARIBBE

When a police officer pulls someone over and walks up to the driver-side window, it’s always with caution, always with uncertainty.

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Summerside and a Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) from the United States Coast Guard (USCG) take similar precautions as they combine efforts to approach suspect vessels during Operation CARIBBE, Canada’s contribution to the multinational campaign against transnational criminal organizations in the eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

During the two-month operation, Summerside will patrol approximately 10,000 nautical miles helping to locate, track, approach and visit vessels suspected of criminal activity, including illicit drug trafficking.

“It’s very much a risk-reward situation every time we approach a vessel,” said the officer in charge of the eight-member LEDET embarked on Summerside to conduct law enforcement operations such as boarding and searching vessels for narcotics and other contraband.

When a suspect vessel is identified, Summerside approaches and launches a Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) to carry members of the LEDET within hailing distance so they can question the master. The RHIB is navigated by one of Summerside’s boat coxswains.

As they approach, the members of the LEDET actively watch the vessel, eyes roving the decks taking in all aspects of the situation – objects or lines in the water that might foul the RHIB’s…

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