The Coast Guard in Galveston generally ranges throughout the Gulf of Mexico, but it does deploy into the Caribbean at times.
That’s where the Dauntless was last month.
The Dauntless is a 210-foot cutter that is the largest ship in the Galveston fleet. Commander John Pruitt III is the captain.
He says the Dauntless was originally on a six-week mission to look for illegal migrants.
“We’ve quite often run into 25 or 30 people on a homemade wooden raft with the engine from a truck sticking out over the side, trying to go 100 miles at sea, with no lifesaving equipment, really no food or water.”
On August 13, the Coast Guard spotted a suspicious speed boat in the waters between Haiti and Cuba. A chase ensued and men on the speed boat threw bales of marijuana over the side.
But they were eventually stopped and detained, and the Coast Guard recovered all the discarded bales from the water.
Pruitt says the marijuana weighed more than a ton.
“This was a great bust for us. Dauntless — if you see a picture of us — one of our symbols on the side of the ship is a gold marijuana leaf, which means we’ve actually interdicted well over a million pounds of marijuana. And we’re the only Coast Guard cutter to ever have actually obtained that record.”
Pruitt says most people think of the Coast Guard in terms of search-and-rescue operations, but those incidents occur on an as-needed basis during regular patrols.
He says half of the patrol missions generally have to do with enforcing fishing regulations, and the other half consists of stopping other illegal activity, such as smuggling and boating while intoxicated.