PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. – The crew of the 210-foot Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant returned to their homeport of Port Canaveral, Florida, Tuesday following a 4-week, migrant interdiction patrol in the Straits of Florida.
During the patrol, the crew of Vigilant was responsible for the rescue and care of 225 Cuban migrants. Once onboard Vigilant, migrants were provided food, water, shelter and medical care.
Vigilant also assisted the Royal Bahamas Defence Force by rescuing and recovering Cuban migrants stranded on Cay Sal Bank. Migrants rescued by the U. S. Coast Guard in The Bahamas are transferred to the government of The Bahamas.
Vigilant patrolled Cay Sal Bank in company with Coast Guard Cutter Shrike, an 87-foot patrol boat, also homeported in Port Canaveral, to assist in the search for distressed migrants. Vigilant refueled Shrike at sea to extend the cutter’s range and operational capabilities and served as a valuable training opportunity between the two cutters.
“I could not be more pleased with the way this crew met the day to day challenges of our vital mission, compassionately caring for a large numbers of migrants, said Cmdr. Riley Gatewood, Vigilant’s commanding officer. “Coast Guard operations in the Straits require every crewmember to take an even strain and maintain an unflinching focus to safely complete the mission. The crew and families sacrifice a lot to ensure Vigilant’s success and I appreciate everything that they do.”
Vigilant is a medium endurance cutter that recently celebrated 52-years of service. Vigilant, along with the service’s other medium endurance cutters, is slated to be replaced by a new fleet of Offshore Patrol Cutters that will be the backbone of the Coast Guard’s offshore presence, stopping smugglers at sea, interdicting undocumented migrants, rescuing mariners, enforcing fisheries laws, responding to disasters and protecting our ports.
The OPC will be an economical, multi-mission ship, providing pursuit boat and helicopter capabilities that will enhance surveillance, detection, classification, identification and prosecution performance in the offshore environment to meet the demands of the Coast Guard’s homeland security missions.