Coast Guard Cutter Tornado to return home after sucessful 31-day voyage

 NEW ORLEANS – The Coast Guard Cutter Tornado, a 180-foot patrol boat, is scheduled to return to its homeport in Pascagoula, Miss., Friday following a 31-day deployment that included patrols in the Straits of Florida.

While patrolling the straits between Key West, Fla., and Cuba, the crew of the Tornado conducted Alien Migrant Interdiction Operations, helping to disturb the flow of illegal immigration into the U.S.

Working with other Coast Guard crews involving vessels, aircraft and high-speed pursuit boats, the crew of the Tornado recorded four vessel seizures and assisted on three others resulting in the interdiction of seven high-performance vessels and 12 suspected migrant smugglers.

Also, the crew of the Cutter Tornado interdicted 45 migrants from numerous rafts and vessels. Nine migrants were rescued from uninhabited coral rocks when their raft broke apart at sea. These migrants, in addition to another 35, which the Tornado received from other Coast Guard assets, were transported to an at-sea holding platform where they received food and medical care while their immigration status was evaluated by pre-screening officers.

During a mid-patrol stop in Key West, several Tornado crewmembers worked with an Assistant U.S. Attorney, a Coast Guard attorney serving as a Special Assistant to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida and a Coast Guard Investigative Service Special Agent in the preparation of a “Failure to Heave-To” case stemming from the Cutter Tornado’s January 2007 interdiction of a suspected go-fast smuggling vessel. The vessel’s operator pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced October 1, 2007.

Following the Tornado’s return home, the crew plan to enjoy a several-week inport maintenance and training period before their next deployment scheduled for late summer.

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