US Coast Guard cutter builds on partnership with Bermuda
A US Coast Guard crew teamed up with Bermudian authorities this week in patrols that included a focus on deterring maritime drug smugglers.
Officers from police and customs were involved in the operation about 20 to 30 miles south to southwest of the island.
They joined crew on the US Coast Guard Cutter Richard Snyder, a 154-ft vessel that has its home port at Atlantic Beach, North Carolina.
The cutter’s missions routinely include search and rescue operations as well as fisheries and law enforcement.
Lieutenant John Rendon, the vessel’s Commanding Officer, said the crew of about 24 arrived in Bermuda last Thursday and left the next day for patrols.
He explained: “We’re here really first of all to build international partnerships.
“We acknowledge the importance of our maritime partners all around the world and especially here.”
Lieutenant Rendon added: “We really engaged with our partners here in Bermuda and looked for opportunities to train.
“Fisheries enforcement, counter drugs — really any of the main missions that we exercise — we acknowledge the importance of involving our international partners in those missions.
“We know that we have a lot of expertise that we can share and we can also gain knowledge from other partners.”
Lieutenant Rendon said customs and police officers observed and participated in the operation.
He added: “Having them on board gives us greater flexibility in our enforcement options when we’re out there patrolling.”
Lieutenant Rendon said: “We really just queried a couple of vessels.
“We worked with police in identifying vessels of interest, and our main priority was intercept, asking questions, gather intelligence and learn about the operations and vessel traffic in this area.”
The Richard Snyder was to begin its journey back to North Carolina today.
Lieutenant Rendon said: “It has been absolutely excellent.
“The partners that we have worked with have been top notch.”
Chief Inspector Robert Cardwell, of the Bermuda Police Service, said the organisation enjoyed “an excellent working relationship” with the US Consulate General and the US Coast Guard.
He added: “Operations of this nature have a huge deterrent value.
“What it effectively does is it shuts down the open door for narcotics smuggling into the island.”
Mr Cardwell, as BPS commanding officer for the operation, said he communicated with the police officer on board the vessel, passing on information.
He added: “That’s shared with the XO [executive officer] and his crew.
“They’re looking at all of the intelligence in one big picture coming from the US and from Bermuda and making decisions on what vessels we’re going to intercept.”
Karen Grissette, the US Consul-General, said the partnership with the US Coast Guard’s fifth district developed after her arrival in Bermuda two years ago.
She added: “There is absolutely an operational function — sharing intelligence, improving our interoperability, and this isn’t a one-way partnership.
“We have Bermudians on board, we welcome Bermudians to the US.”
Ms Grissette said the coastguard crews learnt from their Bermudian counterparts and vice versa.
Commissioned in 2018, the Richard Snyder was used in the retrieval of a Chinese spy balloon that was shot down off the coast of South Carolina earlier this year.