Station LA-LB becomes a “pursuit” certified unit

Station LA-LB conduct escort patrols in their AOR. Photo by Petty Officer Adam Eggers

Station LA-LB conduct escort patrols in their AOR. Photo by Petty Officer Adam Eggers

Story by Seaman Christen Willett

Prior to 2013, Station Los Angeles-Long Beach was known primarily as a search and rescue unit.  As of January 2013, the title of “pursuit” was added to that list.

“Being previously qualified ‘pursuit’ and being able to continue that high-speed, high-risk mission at this unit gives me a sense of accomplishment, especially when we’re able to use our training and experience,” said Station LA-LB pursuit coxswain and boarding officer Petty Officer Second Class Jorge Cañedo. “Based on the history of the area, being able to follow but not pursue was kind of a drawback. This mission type allows us to be able to actually go out there and stop the vessel, the people, and actually terminate the mission of the law breakers.”

The new status, which had been in the making for some time, resulted in a significant change in operations over the past six months and was due in part an increase of drug of/migrant cases.  Initially, a member was considered fully qualified once they had received the title of tactical. “Pursuit” takes the process one step further.

A panga vessel is towed during pursuit training with Station LA-LB. Photo courtesy of Station LA-LB

A panga vessel is towed during pursuit training with Station LA-LB. Photo courtesy of Station LA-LB

Senior Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III made the ultimate sacrifice to protect his shipmates during a drug and migrant operation on December 2, 2012. This unfortunate event led to Station LA-LB becoming a pursuit unit sooner than anticipated. One month later, a Pursuit Training Team from the Coast Guard Special Missions Training Center was sent to Station LA-LB to teach, train and qualify station personnel as pursuit boat crew members on the Response Boat Medium RB-M.

Station LA-LB conducts a patrol in their local waters. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Eggers

Station LA-LB conducts a patrol in their local waters. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Eggers

The RB-M moves fast and turns quick – much needed tools when it comes to the small boats involved in drug operations, commonly referred to as pangas.  These vessels are inexpensive, stable at high speeds and can hold a large amount of cargo. 

Crews from the station gained hands-on experience during the training evolutions, which included classroom sessions, night and day underway time, and concluded with a written test, a certification board and a check ride on the last day.  In addition, several members were sent to a special pursuit school for further training and development to give them the tools to certify and teach their fellow crew members. Now all station members certified in law enforcement must become certified as pursuit boat crew members or pursuit coxswains.  

The members of the pursuit crew at Station LA-LB have utilized these new skills and the training they’ve  gained in the past six months to intercept drug smugglers and help keep the coastal waters safe.

Tags: ,