The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Spencer returned Wednesday to their homeport in Boston following a 55-day patrol.
During their patrol, the crew of the Spencer interdicted four sinking migrant vessels, cared for 344 migrants on their decks, responded to four search and rescue cases, and served as a U.S. response platform for the Caribbean countries affected by Hurricane Matthew.
The crew started the patrol by spending three weeks in Little Creek, Virginia, to conduct the Coast Guard’s Tailored Ship’s Training Availability (TSTA). TSTA is a training assessment period where the crew conducts drills for engineering casualties, damage control, seamanship, navigation, anti-terrorism force protection, surface and air warfare, and medical response. Over three weeks, the crewmembers completed a total of 148 drills and exercises, earning the prestigious Battle “E” ribbon for excellence in all five areas of professional expertise.
Upon earning a “clean sweep” at TSTA, the crew transited south to the Florida Straits interdicting illegal migrants attempting to enter the U.S., while also ensuring safety of life at sea.
As Hurricane Matthew damaged the Caribbean and U.S. East Coast, Joint Task Force Matthew was formed in response. The Spencer crew conducted port assessments and served as a search and rescue platform, part of Joint Task Force Matthew, off the coast of Haiti with a forward deployed helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen, Puerto Rico.
“After successfully completing three weeks of intense training exercises in Little Creek, the crew quickly shifted for the multitude of potential missions we may perform in the Florida Straits during the peak of hurricane season,” said Cmdr. Pete Niles, commanding officer of the cutter Spencer. “From saving Cuban migrants attempting to reach the United States in unseaworthy vessels to serving as a U.S. asset for response to Hurricane Matthew, we made our country, service and families proud during this patrol.”
The Spencer is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter with a crew complement of 15 officers and 75 enlisted personnel.