Coast Guard crew returns to St. Pete after 69-day hurricane relief mission

This afternoon's homecoming wraps up a 69-day mission

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Venturous is used to spending weeks away from loved ones, busting drug smugglers and seizing dangerous substances that would have otherwise made it to US shores.

But the crew is returning Monday after a 69-day mission of mercy. 

The mission, which also included law enforcement operations on the water, was a hurricane relief effort in the Caribbean Sea.

“Our crew was devoted to assisting the people of Puerto Rico in any way they could,” said Ensign Benjamin Chapman, a crewmember aboard the Venturous. “The crew even graciously donated about 700 pounds of food from the cutter’s rations and 500 pounds of food from their own personal supplies.”

The Venturous crew deployed in September, a week early to avoid the path of Hurricane Irma.

During the patrol, the crew worked with federal partners to bring assistance and disaster relief supplies into the ports of Puerto Rico.

Over the course of their mission, crewmembers delivered more than 150,000 pounds of relief supplies including 7,000 gallons of fuel and 5,500 gallons of water from the cutter’s tanks.

“Roads that were not passable. It was just sad… to be able to do everything we possibly could do to help out,” said Petty Officer Ryan Steiger.

“We had small teams help rebuild their generators, help bring on their water plants.”

Commander Matt Chong commended his crew following the mission.

“During this patrol, the men and women of Venturous showed their best through their ingenuity, compassion and selflessness, aiding in the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” said Commander Chong. “This is why many of us joined the Coast Guard, to help others. I am so proud of the work we did together and I am continually reminded that regardless of the challenge, our talented Coast Guard men and women are always ready and always willing to provide help to those in need.”

“Oh, this is one of the more rewarding things that we do,” said Chief Petty Officer Adam Pedzich. “Anytime you can get to go help people out, especially after a hurricane. It’s great. I think the whole crew, they found that the most rewarding out of everything. Getting to go and help the people of Puerto Rico.”

The Venturous is a 210-foot Reliance-class cutter, homeported in St. Petersburg and has a crew of 76.

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