Coast Guard crew returns from 7-week patrol in the South Florida Straits

A crew member of the Coast Guard Cutter Venturous, a 210-foot Reliance class cutter homeported in St. Petersburg, greets his daughter at the pier Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016 following a seven-week Joint Interagency Task Force - South patrol in the in the South Florida Straits. The crew transited more than 6,000 miles, patrolling the waters between Key West and Cuba, carrying out alien migrant interdiction operations. U.S. Coast Guard video by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael De Nyse

A crew member of the Coast Guard Cutter Venturous, a 210-foot Reliance class cutter homeported in St. Petersburg, greets his daughter at the pier Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael De Nyse

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Venturous returned to their homeport Wednesday following a seven-week Joint Interagency Task Force – South patrol in the in the South Florida Straits.

The crew transited more than 6,000 miles, patrolling the waters between Key West and Cuba, carrying out alien migrant interdiction operations.

The crew worked with Department of Homeland Security Maritime Patrol Aircraft to carry out the Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere Strategy, ensuring safety of life at sea.

During the patrol, the Venturous crew worked with other Coast Guard cutter crews to rescue more than 370 Cuban migrants from 27 boats. At the peak of the patrol, Venturous had 178 migrants on the cutter’s flight deck from multiple interdictions.

“The crew performed flawlessly by carrying out their duties with professionalism and enthusiasm,” said Cmdr. Michael Gesele, commanding officer of Venturous. “Being away from their loved ones during Thanksgiving was difficult, but the crew persevered and showed their dedication to the country and Coast Guard during this patrol.”

One notable interdiction by Venturous’s crew took place Nov. 13 when a merchant vessel reported a small craft in distress with people waving their arms.  Two families were on a small boat, which ran out of fuel and was drifting in the Gulf Stream.  Of the 17 people the Venturous crew rescued, six were children, including a 4-month-old boy.

“What started as a search and rescue case resulted in a happy ending, as the family was safely brought aboard Venturous,” said Chief Petty Officer Antony Grullon, a crew member aboard the Venturous.

Another operation took place Nov. 25, after a crew member aboard the cruise ship Carnival Glory spotted and reported a small raft with 17 people aboard. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Raymond Evans, a 154-foot Fast Response Cutter homeported in Key West, was the first on scene and transferred the migrants to Venturous.

“The cruise ship passengers watched in awe as they observed a multi-asset operation unfold right before their eyes, just a day after Thanksgiving,” said Lt. Cmdr. Sky Holm, the cutter’s executive officer.

Additionally, the Venturous served as a training platform to practice shipboard helicopter operations, leading a deck landing qualification exercise, also known as a DLQ Roundup, off the coast of Miami. Members from other Coast Guard cutters reported aboard the Venturous to learn and practice the cutter side of helicopter operations.  Aircrews from multiple Coast Guard air stations were staged out of Coast Guard Air Station Miami to learn and practice landing the MH-65 Dolphin helicopter on Venturous’s flight deck.

“The busy schedule did not stop the crew from partaking in a delicious, well-deserved, Thanksgiving meal while away from their families and friends back home,” said Ensign Zachary Frohn.

The Coast Guard Cutter Venturous is a 210-foot Reliance class cutter homeported in St. Petersburg and has a crew of 76.

The decades-old medium endurance cutters are slated for replacement by a new class of cutter – the offshore patrol cutter. With the ability to operate more than 50 miles from land, the OPC will be a multi-mission ship, providing pursuit boat and helicopter capabilities and interoperability with other military and federal partners.

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