I am extremely pleased to congratulate the crew of the cutter Bertholf for their first drug interdiction on one of our new national security cutters. This success demonstrates the capability of this important national security asset and directly supports the department's strategy for protecting and securing the southwest border.
The national security cutter program is a vital component of the Department's effort to rebuild the Coast Guard's fleet so that it can continue its proud history of executing important missions to support the nation's maritime security and safety while protecting our economic prosperity.
Last week I visited the cutter Dallas in a shipyard in Charleston. The Dallas, and her sister ship Gallatin, are undergoing extensive work to repair major structural and machinery problems that are the result of their age and overuse. The national security cutter program will replace these 40-year old, Vietnam era vessels with modern, capable ships to secure America.
In Wednesday's seizure off the coast of Guatemala, the crew of the Bertholf disrupted four drug smuggling speedboats at the same time with their multiple pursuit boats and helicopter. The crew successfully captured two vessels and four suspects while disrupting the other two boats.
The continued renewal of the Coast Guard fleet and use of modern technology across the department is an indispensable part of our strategy to improve the ability of DHS to secure our nation and protect its citizens.