Boston-based cutter deploys to Haiti for the holidays

Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba transiting the Cape Cod Canalnaba

USCG File Photo

The Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba, home ported in Boston, deployed south to conduct operations near Haiti Nov. 30, 2010.

The crew of the Escanaba will augment Coast Guard forces currently deployed in the region by bring its command, control and communications capability, as well as a patrolling resource.

Windward Pass operations, which include counterdrug and illegal migrant interdictions off the coast of Haiti, focus primarily on deterrence and interdiction of illicit traffickers. The Coast Guard’s strength in search and rescue is often exercised during illegal migrant interdictions. Migrant smugglers often force their human cargo to live in cramped, unsanitary spaces, well beyond the safe loading capacity of the smuggling vessel.

“This deployment will be a challenging blend that reflects the military, multi-mission and maritime nature that has characterized the Coast Guard since its inception”, said Cmdr. Ed Westfall, commanding officer of the Escanaba. “Protecting persons from the perils of the sea is a fundamental responsibility shared by all mariners, military and civilian. Protecting our nation from illegal acts on the water is rooted in the foundations of our service and highlights our cooperative and complementary relationship with our sister agencies within the Department (of Homeland Security). The unfortunate reality is that illicit traffickers, whether they be moving drugs, weapons, or, in this case, people, will stop at nothing to profit from the sometimes desperate misfortune of others. The crowded living conditions aboard vessels found smuggling persons from Haiti are often beyond the pale. Our forward presence offshore of that nation is intended to deter these illegal voyages before they begin and, if necessary, stop them before there is injury or loss of life.”

This deployment does mean Escanaba’s crew will be away from their families and friends for the holidays.

“Of course it is tough being away, especially during this time of year, but being able to counter the threat from ruthless smugglers and to be prepared to support humanitarian operations off Haiti is truly rewarding,” said Petty Officer Scarberry, a crewman aboard the Escanaba.

The Escanaba is prepared to execute any of the Coast Guard’s eleven statutory missions, should the Escanaba be called upon to do so. This readiness has been evidenced by numerous Coast Guard units in 2010, as the deployed cutters Forward, Mohawk, Tahoma, and Valiant were the first US assets on-scene in the initial hours after the devastating January earthquake as well as the cutter Forward’s preparatory response when Hurricane Tomas impacted Haiti in November.

Escanaba is the seventh of 13 Famous Class medium endurance cutters in the United States Coast Guard’s inventory. Escanaba has patrolled from the waters off New England enforcing federal and international fishing regulations to deep in the Caribbean on drug and migrant interdiction patrols.

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