Red Crew

Fighting the War on Drugs with Reagan’s Coast Guard
If you are a member, log in to receive member pricing
Published:June 15, 2018

Red Crew is a first-hand account of U.S. Coast Guard anti-smuggling operations during the early years of the nation’s maritime war on drugs. Jim Howe describes his experience as the executive officer of a specialized drug-hunting crew that sailed in then-state-of-the-art “surface effect ships,” a small flotilla of high-speed vessels pressed into the drug war on short notice.

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.

List Price: $29.95
Member Price: $23.96
Product Details
  • Subject: U.S. Coast Guard
  • Hardback : 320 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1682473015
  • ISBN-13: 9781682473016
  • Product Dimensions: 6 X 9 in
  • Shipping Weight: 22.72 oz
  • “Howe’s book is a fast-paced account of true Coast Guard heroes that would, no doubt, make Reagan proud. Red Crew puts the reader in the middle of missions as nerve-racking and diverse as rescuing migrants who are literally at death’s door [and] outwitting sophisticated and extremely well-funded smugglers - all told by a sailor who combines the technical expertise of Tom Clancy with Pat Conroy’s mastery of the English Language.” —Military Officer
  • Red Crew’s text is supported by some great photos and nice charts…. The book is a pleasure to read and an enlightening look at Coast Guard drug interdiction operations during the early 1980s.” —The Journal of America's Military Past
  • Red Crew takes you through the frequently harrowing, often heartbreaking, and sometimes humorous stories that are universal within the military services, as seen through the eyes of a sailor who combines the technical expertise of Tom Clancy with Pat Conroy’s mastery of the English language. This fascinating book brings back many memories for the older generation among us – while easily making [our] list of required reading for all current and future young women and men who are considering the sea services as their calling. Red Crew is truly nothing short of an inspirational page-turner: it stands as a fast-paced account of everyday Coast Guard heroes as they serve our nation. It presents their selfless adherence to the Coast Guard’s core values in a way that would no doubt make President Reagan proud.” —The Bulletin
  • The Free Lance-Star, "New book by Stafford author documents early Coast Guard efforts to fight drug smuggling"
  • "Howe narrates, in vivid detail, a stirring tale of small crew dynamics, innovative leadership, and improvisation, as he and his crew battle the threat of smuggling. Red Crew expertly captures the essence of life in the patrol boat fleet and is a thrilling tribute to the men and women who serve our great nation at sea." —Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr., 24th Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard
  • "Gripping! Howe’s non-fiction book detailing the early years of the Coast Guard’s war on drugs reads like a fast paced action novel. His story casts a vivid spotlight on the unsung heroes that played a major role in almost completely stopping 'at sea' smuggling during the 1980s. These are tales that have not been told and are well worth the read." —Master Chief Charles "Skip" Bowen, 10th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard
  • "Jim Howe dramatically captures the courage and sacrifice that the Nation may require of its ‘Coasties’ on any given day. Whether it be putting their lives on the line to save a vessel and crew in distress on a lee shore under storm-force winds, or facing down violent drug smugglers on the high seas, Red Crew tells it like it is for these maritime heroes." —Captain Bruce Miller, USN (Ret), former Assistant to the Vice President for Homeland Security Affairs, and commanding officer, USS City of Corpus Christi (SSN 705) and USS Alaska (SSBN 732G)
  • "Captain Howe's excellent book is hard to put down. He covers a unique period in Coast Guard history, when technology finally caught up with and integrated into Coast Guard operations, allowing specialized teams to successfully carry out complex missions. I truly savored Red Crew and hope others will enjoy it as much as I did." —Master Chief Vince Patton, U.S. Coast Guard (ret.), Eighth Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard

Capt. Jim Howe, USCG (Ret.), served 27 years in the U.S. Coast Guard, eleven at sea and five in command. A graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, he has earned master’s degrees in government, strategic studies, and space studies. Captain Howe works in the nuclear power industry.

More by this Author

Red Crew
Red Crew is a first-hand account of U.S. Coast Guard anti-smuggling operations during the early...Read More

Related Content

The Need for Big Speed
In the maritime war on drugs, one question haunts the Coast Guard: How can we stop the go-fast?... Read More
The Forgotten Threat
It is likely only a matter of time before terrorists attempt maritime attacks in the United... Read More
The Forgotten Threat
It is likely only a matter of time before terrorists attempt maritime attacks in the United States... Read More

Events and Conferences

18 January - Presentation
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM | Falls Church Military History Forum | Falls Church, VA Read More
15 March - Presentation
2:00 PM | John Hopkins Applies Physics Laboratory | Laurel, MD Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Reviews


Conferences and Events

WEST 2019

Wed, 2019-02-13 - Fri, 2019-02-15

Sharpening the Competitive Edge: Are We Ready to Compete, Deter, and Win Globally? Wednesday, 13 February - Friday, 15 February...

2019 U.S. Naval Institute Member Event

Why Become a Member of the U.S. Naval Institute?

As an independent forum for over 140 years, the Naval Institute has been nurturing creative thinkers who responsibly raise their voices on matters relating to national defense.

Become a Member Renew Membership