On April 1, 2020, U.S. Southern Command increased counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to disrupt the flow of drugs. Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security have cooperated in an effort to combat transnational organized crime. In concert with the Navy, Customs and Border Protection, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and allied and international partner agencies, CAMPBELL was at the forefront of the fight against drugs from December 2020 to February 2021. Conducting a 63-day counter-narcotics patrol in the eastern Pacific Ocean, CAMPBELL navigated over 12,000 nautical miles, conducted 122 flight operation evolutions, transited the Panama Canal twice, and crossed the equator into the Southern Hemisphere. CAMPBELL and her crew successfully interdicted or disrupted over 11,600 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $215 million and apprehended six suspected international narcotics smugglers. During one interdiction, a bridge lookout, using night vision detection, sighted an unlit Low Profile Vessel (LPV) transiting near the cutter at night. Upon detection, CAMPBELL launched the 26-foot “Over the Horizon” (OTH) pursuit boat to intercept the LPV with an embarked law enforcement boarding team. The boarding team assumed positive control of the vessel, detained three suspected smugglers, and disrupted the delivery of 4,400 pounds of cocaine. The night-time case occurred solely due to the alertness of the bridge lookout. During another seizure, CAMPBELL vectored toward a LPV whose crew jettisoned its contraband after being detected by aerial surveillance. Deploying an embarked helicopter, the LPV was stopped with disabling fire directed into the four outboard engines. CAMPBELL’s crew was able to locate and recover the discarded packages, which yielded an at-sea weight of 4,415 pounds of cocaine. CAMPBELL's final case was also detected by aerial surveillance. Once again launching the helicopter and OTH cutter boat, they pursued a 35-foot panga-style "go-fast" vessel traveling at 30 knots. The helicopter crew fired warning shots, bringing the vessel to a stop. CAMPBELL retrieved 2,791 pounds of cocaine. Not all of CAMPBELL's efforts veered toward interdicting narcotics. While patrolling, a crewmember spotted a sea turtle caught in fishing gear and struggling to dive. A team deployed from the cutter was able to free the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle from the debris. Throughout the deployment, CAMPBELL worked closely with U.S. Coast Guard and Navy assets on missions in support of the Coast Guard’s 11th District, Joint Interagency Task Force South, and more broadly, the Coast Guard's Western Hemisphere strategy to combating drug trafficking organization networks.
In late summer 2020, CAMPBELL sailed for Nuuk, Greenland, and participated in Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) ARGUS. The joint operation which included French, Greenlandic, and Royal Danish Navy assets provided a unique opportunity to establish a framework for interoperability between allied nations, the protection of U.S. interests, and response to distressed mariners in a rapidly changing Arctic environment. In addition to ARGUS, CAMPBELL participated in numerous diplomatic engagements, including hosting Greenland’s Premier, the Joint Arctic Command (JACO) Commanding Officer, and members of the local community aboard the cutter. Pushing north from Nuuk, CAMPBELL operated for 21 days above the Arctic Circle, reaching 72 degrees latitude in support of her missions and earning The Arctic Service Medal (ASM). A momentous achievement for CAMPBELL, her crew, and the Coast Guard, no other 210-foot or 270-foot medium endurance cutter has been bestowed the ASM in 230 years of Coast Guard history. CAMPBELL was not designed to operate in the harsh and often uncharted waters of the Arctic; the award has historically been attained by Icebreakers or cutters with an ice-class rating. The expert planning, vigilant watch standing, and judgment of the crew attests to the significance of this accomplishment. Upon returning to home port, and for her efforts spanning the 57-day deployment, CAMPBELL was awarded the Coast Guard Unit Commendation by Atlantic Area Commander, Vice Admiral Steven Poulin. The award highlighted the substantial and noteworthy impact CAMPBELL had in advancing the Commandant’s Arctic Strategy as well as strengthening partnerships with NATO allies in the Arctic. CAMPBELL has undoubtedly paved the way for future military exchanges and demonstrated the Coast Guard and nation’s commitment to the Arctic Region.
Since 2015, CAMPBELL has conducted nearly 400 commercial fishing vessel boarding inspections in waters ranging from the Canadian border to Charleston, SC. Enforcing complex Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA) regulations, CAMPBELL has labored to safeguard delicate marine ecosystems and protect endangered species while ensuring sustainability of the commercial fishing industry for years to come. Most importantly, CAMPBELL promotes and ensures the safety of life at sea, particularly for commercial fishing vessels operating in New England waters. In the spring of 2020, CAMPBELL responded to the fishing vessel MARY EMMALENE, disabled and adrift in 15-foot seas and six miles east of Provincetown, MA. Arriving on scene, CAMPBELL quickly connected to the beleaguered vessel and towed it to safe haven in Provincetown, saving three lives.
During New York City Fleet Week 2019, CAMPBELL held the honor of leading a parade of 15 Navy and Coast Guard ships through New York City’s inner harbor and up the Hudson River to the George Washington Bridge. The annual Memorial Day tradition, which first began in 1982, traces its roots back to the Spanish-American War of 1898, after which victorious U.S. Navy vessels entered the harbor in celebratory fashion. Over the course of the weekend, CAMPBELL hosted over 1,000 guests from around the world, putting the U.S. Coast Guard, its people and its missions at the forefront of the event.
After departing New York City, CAMPBELL steamed north to Canadian waters and participated in Operation FRONTIER SENTINEL, an annual joint U.S./Canada exercise that coordinates planning and response to maritime threats to North America. Conducting gunnery, communications, and aviation drills with the U.S. Navy Destroyer USS JASON DUNHAM and the Royal Canadian Navy Frigate HMCS VILLE DE QUEBEC, CAMPBELL exercised interoperability with maritime partners and training to counter shared threats to the continent.
Rounding out their multi-missioned patrol, CAMPBELL responded to two distressed vessel cases: the 72-foot fishing vessel SEA RAMBLER, 40 nautical miles southeast of Portland, Maine, and sailing vessel REFLECTION, 280 nautical miles east of Cape Cod. After embarking the Master of REFLECTION, CAMPBELL towed the vessel for 14 hours on their 360 nautical mile journey back to Buzzard’s Bay.
In 2017, CAMPBELL patrolled the Coast Guard’s First District waters in support of Operation ATLANTIC VENTURE. During the patrol, they conducted 41 at-sea commercial fishing vessel inspections, and assisted two others in distress. After a loss of propulsion, fishing vessel BLACK BEAUTY was placed in stern tow by CAMPBELL, despite 30 knot winds and seven foot seas, and returned to safety. When fishing vessel ORION became disabled and adrift 100 nautical miles east of Portland, ME, CAMPBELL deployed her rescue and assistance team who was able to affect repairs, allowing the vessel to return to fishing.
Later in December 2017, CAMPBELL led an interagency effort to interdict sailing vessel SEA YA II approximately 470 nautical miles east of Nova Scotia, Canada. Fusing intelligence and fixed-wing air support, the detection and subsequent boarding of the 60-foot vessel yielded the detention of three international drug traffickers and 4,000 pounds of cocaine bound for Halifax from the Dominican Republic. The highly unusual case marked the first to be prosecuted in the Coast Guard’s First District area of responsibility in nearly five years.
CAMPBELL ensured fairness and equity within the commercial fishing vessel industry by conducting enforcement action for three vessels engaged in trawling for ground fish in New England waters. This most notably included an 85-foot trawler who when approached by CAMPBELL’s boarding team released their nets into the sea, endangering the lives of the boarding team in an effort to avoid detection of illegal gear configuration. During two other boarding inspections, CAMPBELL discovered net liners, a highly egregious violation that directly affects the escape of juvenile fish, affixed to the fishing vessels.
CAMPBELL executed her first Joint Inter Agency Task Force (JIATF) patrol in over three years. The crew’s efforts resulted in the interdiction and apprehension of seven vessels and nine suspected drug smugglers, moving 2.2 metric tons of cocaine. Additionally, they interrupted an additional three metric tons of contraband with an estimated value of $81.6M. Shifting to migrant interdiction operations, CAMPBELL intercepted 24 Cuban migrants in the Straits of Florida and held an additional 62 Cuban and Chinese migrants awaiting disposition at sea. Originally assigned to the Caribbean theater of operations, CAMPBELL adjusted plans on short notice to transit the Panama Canal Transit and pursue targets in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
USCGC CAMPBELL (WMEC-909) is the sixth cutter to bear the name CAMPBELL. Four were named for George Washington Campbell, Secretary of the Treasury in 1814. One was named for James Campbell, Postmaster General in 1863. The newest CAMPBELL, the ninth of the Coast Guard Famous Cutter class, is named to honor the previous CAMPBELLs, especially the USS CAMPBELL CG-32. The first CAMPBELL, a schooner, patrolled the Chesapeake Bay from 1830 to 1834. The second, also a schooner, saw service in the Gulf of Mexico between 1834-1839 and participated in the Seminole Indian War.
The third CAMPBELL, built in 1848, was considered the finest example of the sailing cutter; sleek and trim in appearance, she was called "Queen of Sailing Cutters". The fourth CAMPBELL, built in Somerset, Massachusetts, patrolled New England waters from 1853-1875. The fifth CAMPBELL, CG-32, was the longest lived and the most famous. Built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1936, USS CAMPBELL CG-32 earned the title "Queen of the Seas" during her illustrious forty-six year career which spanned World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars. CAMPBELL and five sister ships each saw extensive action as convoy escorts during the Battle of the Atlantic throughout 1942-1943.
Capable of maintaining a twenty knot speed in seas that slowed destroyers, these ships were ideal for protecting shipping in the mid Atlantic sector. Direction finding equipment and Asdic (early sonar) provided the primary anti-submarine defense. In February 1943 CAMPBELL was detailed to escort Convoy ON-166 and to provide Search-and-Rescue for any ships in distress. In the early morning hours of February 21st, the convoy was surrounded by a German U-Boat "Wolf Pack". U-606 torpedoed and sank the SS NIELSON ALONSO. Dispatched to assist, CAMPBELL rescued fifty survivors and then turned to attack another boat, U-753, damaging it so badly that the U-Boat had to withdraw from the wolf pack.
Throughout the 21st and 22nd, CAMPBELL attacked several U-Boats inflicting damage and driving off the attackers. Later on the 22nd U-606, having sustained heavy depth charge damage, surfaced in the midst of the convoy attempting a daring surface attack. CAMPBELL struck the sub a glancing blow that gashed CAMPBELL's hull in the engine room below the waterline. CAMPBELL fought on, dropping two depth charges which exploded and lifted the sub four feet out of the water.
The crew brought all guns to bear on the subs, fighting on until water in the engine room shorted out all electricity. At the same time CAMPBELL lost power and the searchlights illuminating the sub went out, the U-Boat Commander ordered the sub abandoned. CAMPBELL ceased fire and lowered boats to rescue the subs survivors. CAMPBELL, disabled in the attack, was towed to port nine days later. She was repaired, rejoining the fleet for convoy duty until the German surrender. She was subsequently transferred to the Pacific to serve as an Amphibious Flagship until the end of the war. After World War II, CAMPBELL returned to peacetime duties under the Treasury Department and was designated a Coast Guard Cutter. All Coast Guard vessels since that time have borne the title U.S. Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) rather than the USS title of U.S. NAVY ships. CAMPBELL was twice more called to combat action, in Korean and Vietnamese waters. During Operation Market-Time, CAMPBELL destroyed or damaged 105 Viet Cong structures and steamed over thirty-two thousand miles in the Vietnamese War Zone. CAMPBELL was assigned to Search-and-Rescue, Maritime Law Enforcement, Military Readiness, and Ocean Station duties. She was homeported in New York City until 1969 when she moved to Portland, Maine. In 1974 her homeport was again changed, this time to Port Angeles, Washington. There she continued her peacetime duties until decommissioned in 1982. At the time of decommissioning, CAMPBELL was the oldest active continually commissioned vessel in the United States Fleet.