The war against drug smugglers and the continuing congressional hassles over the budget are blamed by the Coast Guard's Fifth District in Portsmouth for its decision to cancel patrols and keep three cutters in port indefinitely.
The Coast Guard used up all but emergency supplies of its fuel for the mid-Atlantic coast because of the intensified campaign this fall to intercept Colombia's marijuana crop. Additional money for fuel should be forthcoming, but the Coast Guard--as well as its parent Transportation Department--is still without a budget (although President Reagan signed a continuing resolution yesterday that will keep DOT in business).
Thomas Wedgewood, chief of operations for the Fifth District, said, "By the time we got to the second continuing resolution the one passed two months into the fiscal year , we had already operated as much as we had in three months of 1980. It just means we shot too much of our wad in the first two months."
The law enforcement cruises are controlled by a command in New York. It ordered the big anti-marijuana push and later, faced with no money for fuel and legislation that prohibited borrowing from anticipated appropriations, ordered the cutbacks.
Coast Guard officials said patrols are continuing, but at a much reduced pace until the budgetary situation is sorted out.