Coast Guard Cutter Northland returns home from Florida Straits patrol

A crewmember from the Coast Guard Cutter Northland embraces his girlfriend at Base Portsmouth, Virginia, Sept. 15, 2016. Northland just returned from a 42-day patrol in the Coast Guard’s 7th District. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Leake)

A crewmember from the Coast Guard Cutter Northland embraces his girlfriend at Base Portsmouth, Virginia, Sept. 15, 2016.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Leake)

PORTSMOUTH, Va — The Coast Guard Cutter Northland returned from a 42-day patrol in the Coast Guard’s 7th District Thursday.

During their patrol, Northland coordinated maritime migrant interdictions in support of the Department of Homeland Security’s Southern Border and Approaches Campaign, and the Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere Strategy, which together strengthen security along the United States’ maritime borders.

In total, Northland’s crew processed 491 migrants interdicted at sea.  Northland worked with key interagency partners including Coast Guard Sector and Station Key West, Florida, Station Islamorada, Florida, new Fast Response Cutters homeported in Miami and Key West, Coast Guard maritime patrol aircraft, and Customs and Border Protection.

During the patrol, Northland interdicted 3 homemade rustic vessels with 31 people on board. On August 28, 2016, Northland crewmembers rescued 12 Cuban migrants from a homemade vessel that was buffeted by heavy seas in the wake of Tropical Depression 9, which days later became Tropical Storm Hermine.

“While aboard Northland, all migrants in our care received food, water and basic medical care,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Brett Shavack, a maritime enforcement specialist onboard Northland.  “Attempts of illegal migration to the United States through the Florida Straits are often perilous voyages that result in the loss of countless lives.  While our mission is to detect and deter illegal migration, it is also to save the lives of those attempting these dangerous voyages aboard unseaworthy vessels before tragedy strikes.”

Coast Guard Cutter Northland is a 270-foot Medium Endurance Cutter home ported in Portsmouth, Virginia.  This class of cutter routinely deploys along the Southeast coast for migrant operations as well as to the Caribbean Sea and Eastern Pacific in support of the counter-drug mission.

The decades-old medium endurance cutters are slated for replacement by a new class of cutters – 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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