The U.S. Coast Guard’s new Legend-class national security cutter, USCGC Stone (WMSL 758), has departed from Pascagoula, Mississippi on its first patrol to the South Atlantic to counter illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing.
The multi-month deployment marks the Coast Guard’s first patrol to South America in recent memory and will include partners in Guyana, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, and Portugal. The cutter also embarked an observer from the Portuguese navy for the operation’s duration.
The brand new Legend-class national security cutter, one of the U.S. Coast Guard’s flagships, will provide a presence and support national security objectives throughout the Atlantic. The patrol is the cutter’s initial shakedown cruise following its delivery from Huntington Ingalls in November.
Operation Southern Cross is conducted in conjunction with U.S. Southern Command, charged with managing operations in Central and South America by working collaboratively to ensure the Western Hemisphere is secure, free, and prosperous.
The first sale value of global fish production in 2018 stands at $401 billion, and it estimated that IUU Fishing results in tens of billions of dollars of lost revenue to legal fishers every year. In September 2020, the Coast Guard released the Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported (IUU) Fishing Strategic Outlook, reaffirming the Coast Guard’s commitment to global maritime security, regional stability, and economic prosperity.
“The U.S. Coast Guard is committed to the protection of living marine resources,” said Vice Adm. Steven Poulin, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area. “IUU fishing threatens the health of fish stocks and adversely impacts those who follow global norms and national laws. This is a global issue, and IUU is a problem too big for any one nation. Only by working together can we protect livelihoods, ensure ports remain economically productive, and support and sustainable fisheries industry. Stone’s patrol demonstrates our commitment to the established rules-based order while addressing IUU fishing wherever a Coast Guard cutter is deployed.”
The Legend-class National Security Cutters are the most technologically advanced ships in the Coast Guard’s fleet. They measure 418 feet (127 meters) long with a 54-foot beam and displace 4,500 tons with a full load. They have a top speed of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 miles, an endurance of 60 days, and a crew of around 120.