WASHINGTON — A P-3 Long Range Tracker (LRT) aircrew with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) National Air Security Operations Center (NASOC) partnered with federal and international authorities to rescue three distressed Panamanian nationals who had been adrift at sea for more than two weeks on Monday, February 15, 2021.
The aircrew responded to a call about distressed occupants on a disabled 20-foot panga-style fishing vessel hundreds of miles off the coast of Ecuador. The P-3 LRT crew consisted of AMO personnel and three of their counterparts from the counter-narcotics forces of the Government of Ecuador.
After the location of the three panga occupants was established, an Ecuadorian aircrew member exchanged radio communications in Spanish with the captain of a nearby fishing vessel and translated all communications into English for the AMO aircrew and U.S. Coast Guard counterparts.
The P-3 LRT aircrew guided the fishing vessel to the location of the distressed panga where they rescued the occupants. Interviews revealed the individuals had been adrift at sea for at least two weeks due to a malfunctioning motor.
Ecuadorian aircrew members gathered information from the rescued individuals to facilitate notification of their families. Ecuadorian crewmembers served crucial roles in keeping the individuals who had been lost at sea and the rescuing fishing vessel crew calm and focused throughout the challenging operation. The P-3 crew passed port information to USCG District 11 partners.
AMO has two P-3 NASOCs located in Jacksonville, Florida, and Corpus Christi, Texas. These P-3 aircraft operate throughout North, Central and South America in defense of the borders of the United States and to prevent attempts to smuggle persons or contraband.
AMO safeguards our nation by anticipating and confronting security threats through aviation and maritime law enforcement expertise, innovative capabilities, and partnerships at the border and beyond. With approximately 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel, 240 aircraft and 300 marine vessels operating throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, AMO serves as the nation’s experts in airborne and maritime law enforcement.
In Fiscal Year 2020, AMO enforcement actions resulted in the seizure or disruption of 194,220 pounds of cocaine, 278,492 pounds of marijuana, 15,985 pounds of methamphetamine, 952 weapons and $51.5 million; 1,066 arrests; and 47,872 apprehensions of illegal aliens.