CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The United States Coast Guard (USCG) Cutter Hamilton on Friday returned to Charleston following a 97 day deployment to the Mediterranean and Black Seas in support of the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet.
The Hamilton was the first such USCG vessel to transit the Black Sea since 2008, when the USCG Cutter Dallas made the journey.
Commanding Officer Captain Timothy Cronin said that there was some excited anticipation ahead of the operation:
“We knew the stakes could be high, we knew the consequences could be high, but this crew was well prepared, well trained for that mission.”Capt. Timothy Cronin
Despite the potential challenges, Captain Cronin said the crew “knocked it out of the park — as expected.”
A successful mission was important not only to the United States, but to our NATO allies as well.
While underway, the Hamilton conducted training exercises with forces from Italy, Georgia, Ukraine, Malta, Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria.
Operating in a hotly contested area, ensuring cohesive operations and strong military partnerships is critical to support a free maritime domain. Captain Cronin says that through the operations, “we exercise our right to freedom of navigation and ensure that the world knows that the Black Sea isn’t owned by just one country, it’s open to all.”
Members of the crew remarked on the success of the historic mission, not just operationally, but in relationships built with international allies.
According to Captain Cronin, “it starts with conversations, it includes training, it includes capacity building, it includes being able to communicate with each other.”
In addition to exchanging best practices, the crew said that they enjoyed exchanging customs, pins, and patches with their counterparts from different countries.
The Hamilton will remain in port for the next three months as it undergoes routine repairs and updates ahead of its next drug interdiction deployment.