The arrival of the Coast Guard cutter Gallatin, which was christened in 1968, marked the end of its last mission to disrupt the drug trade in the Caribbean. In a 72-day patrol, crew members seized 2,240 pounds of cocaine worth $34 million in three busts.
The 378-foot vessel's 45 years of service will officially end in March, when it is decommissioned. It later will be handed over to Nigeria under the Foreign Assistance Act.
The Alexander Hamilton, the first specialized "national security cutter" to be based on the East Coast, will replace the boat in calling Charleston home. The Hamilton is faster, has a longer range and can handle two helicopters on its flight deck.
Starting in the fall, a second new cutter, the James, also will be based here, making Charleston home to two of the Coast Guard's five national security cutters.
Nancy Fulenwider (left) and her daughter Catherine are full of excitement as they await the arrival of husband and father Geoff Fulenwider as the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Gallatin pulls into North Charleston on Wednesday, December 11, 2013, ending the ship’s last mission. Also awaiting Fulenwider’s return is his granddaughter Alivia Haun, 7. Grace Beahm/Staff×
Families rush to greet their loved ones as Garry Sweeny, with the Patriot Guard, pays tribute to the members of the Coast Guard cutter Gallatin on Wednesday, December 11, 2013. Grace Beahm/Staff×