The United States Coast Guard has announced the death of a sailor during drug enforcement operations off the southern California coast this morning. Sailors from the Coast Guard Cutter Halibut were pursuing a suspicious vessel, a panga style craft, and had launched a rigid hull inflatable boat. The suspect craft veered into the pursuing inflatable and two Coast Guard sailors were thrown into the water. Both were recovered immediately and one was determined to have suffered a severe head injury. The Halibut returned to port while first aid was administered to the injured sailor. Emergency personnel at dockside in Port Hueneme, Calif., pronounced the sailor dead.
The suspect vessel is described by the Coast Guard as running without lights. When the inflatable approached using its law enforcement blue lights, the suspect boat maneuvered at high speed and struck the inflatable before fleeing. The boat and two suspects on board was stopped by another Coast Guard craft shortly afterward.
Update: The Coast Guard announced Monday that Chief Boatswain’s Mate (BMC) Terrell Horne, the executive officer of the CGC Halibut was killed during maritime law enforcement operations off the California coast.
The Coast Guard has not released the names of the sailors but several press accounts, including one from CBS, identify the dead sailor as Hailbut’s chief executive officer, BMC Terrell Horne. He is believed to be from Redondo Beach and 34 years of age.
Coast Guard Cutter Halibut is an 87 foot Marine Protector Class patrol boat. The ship was commissioned in 2002 and replaced an 82 foot patrol craft. The Coast Guard describes Halibut’s mission as:
HALIBUT is under the operational command of Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach and is responsible for patrolling 300 miles of the southern California coast from Morro Bay to Dana Point, including the Channel Islands and Catalina Island. HALIBUT conducts safety boardings of recreational boats and commercial fishing boats to ensure the vessels are safe for sea. In addition, HALIBUT provides security for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach (together the busiest port in America). This duty includes boarding and escorting motor tankers and container ships in and out of the ports.