Coast Guard Cutter Valiant returning from 33 day patrol

MIAMI – A local Coast Guard cutter will return to Miami Monday at noon following a 33-day patrol in the Florida Straits and the Windward Passage in support of counter drug and alien migrant operations.

The Coast Guard Cutter Valiant began this successful Caribbean patrol in the Florida Straits in an effort to deter and interdict alien migrant operations. During this time, more than 180 Cuban migrants crossed the deck of the Valiant.

While in the Florida Straits, Valiant’s crew also interdicted or assisted in the interdiction of three “go-fast” boats in an effort to combat illegal human smuggling operations. They worked with several other air and surface Coast Guard assets, including the Cutters Reliance, Vigilant, Chandeleur and Drummond, and air crews from Air Station Miami and Clearwater, Fla., to interdict these vessels. The crew played an important role in interdicting six suspected migrant smugglers throughout the patrol.

Following the patrol of the Florida Straits, the Valiant sailed to the Windward Passage to support migrant operations off the coast of Haiti. Two separate interdictions in the Wind Ward Passage resulted in the safe repatriation of 204 Haitian migrants.

On Feb. 2, the crew of the Valiant located a Haitian sail-freighter with an unknown number of people aboard about 35 miles west of Great Inagua, Bahamas. Two of Valiant’s small boats were launched and the crew discovered 117 men and 14 women aboard the sail-freighter. The 131 Haitian migrants were safely transported to the Valiant and the Haitian sail-freighter was destroyed as a hazard to navigation. All 131 Haitian migrants were repatriated to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Feb. 4.

While on a mid-patrol break at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the crew of the Valiant had one night of rest before getting recalled to get underway and locate a possible migrant vessel in the Windward Passage. With the assistance of a Coast Guard Falcon jet from Air Station Miami, Valiant’s crew located another Haitian sail-freighter Wednesday with 73 Haitian migrants aboard. The 73 Haitian migrants were safely transported to Valiant and then to the Cutter Dependable for repatriation.

The Valiant located a Haitian sail-freighter that had been lost at sea for six days Friday. The sail-freighter became lost on a routine commercial voyage after poor weather conditions pushed the vessel off the coast of Haiti. The seven passengers were discovered with little food and water and requested to abandon their sail-freighter and be transported back to Haiti by the Valiant. After coordinating with the government of Haiti, the seven survivors were safely transported to Valian and back to Haiti.

“It feels good to know that we are helping to secure our nation by enforcing immigration laws, but it feels great to know that we are saving lives in the process,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Delvecchio, a member of the Valiant’s electrical division. “Many of the vessels we find at sea are not seaworthy, cannot withstand the weather conditions in the open ocean, and are really dangerous.”

Note: Media are invited to the homecoming at the Coast Guard Integrated Support Command Miami at 100 MacArthur Causeway Monday at noon.

The Valiant is a 210-foot medium endurance Coast Guard homeported in Miami.

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