In the early 1980s, South Florida and the Caribbean were awash in illicit drugs, with hundreds of smuggling organizations bringing huge loads of marijuana, and later cocaine, into the United States. To fight this epidemic, the Reagan administration led a massive effort to disrupt shore-side gangs while bolstering interdiction activity at sea. To increase the number of days at sea for each surface effect ship, a “multi-crewing” concept was employed, with four teams of sixteen sailors—the Red, Blue, Green, and Gold Crews—rotating among three hulls.
Through its first-person narrative, Red Crew offers a rare glimpse into the day-to-day pressures, challenges, failures, and successes of Coast Guard cuttermen as they carried out complex and dangerous missions. Red Crew provides a unique historical view of the early days in the Coast Guard’s war on drugs, and is the only book-length history of the diminutive, one-of-a-kind surface effect ship fleet.