Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant to Return to Port Canaveral

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. – The 210-foot Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant is scheduled to return to its homeport of Port Canaveral Dec. 19 at 8 a.m. after a forty-day law enforcement patrol in the Mona Passage and Caribbean Sea.

On Nov. 13, During its transit to the Mona Passage the cutter Vigilant intercepted a grossly overloaded 40-foot migrant vessel en route from Port Du Paix, Haiti, to the Bahamas.

The crew of the Vigilant and the Coast Guard Cutter Seneca safely transferred all 105 Haitians from their un-seaworthy vessel to the two cutters. All the migrants were then cared for, medically screened and transferred to the Seneca for repatriation to Haiti.

Shortly after arriving in the Mona Passage, Vigilant went quickly to work and embarked 13 additional migrants from the Dominican Republic who had been intercepted attempting to reach Puerto Rico.

After facilitating interviews by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents aboard the ship, one migrant was identified as a previously convicted felon in the U.S. This migrant and two other material witnesses were transferred ashore in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, for prosecution. The remaining 10 migrants were sent to another Coast Guard unit for repatriation.

On Nov. 16, Vigilant was directed to rendezvous with the Belgian naval vessel BNS Westdiep. The Westdiep, with a Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment Team aboard, had intercepted a 120-foot Bolivian motor freighter suspected of carrying illegal cargo.

The cutter Vigilant assumed custody of the boarding and commenced escorting the vessel to San Juan, Puerto Rico, for an intrusive search on behalf of the Bolivian government. During the transit, a faulty high pressure fuel line on the vessel’s main diesel engine erupted, nearly causing a catastrophic engine room fire in the middle of the night. The Vigilant crew and its boarding team responded with perfection, isolating the casualty and continuing the transit to San Juan without further incident.

After mooring the vessel at U.S. Coast Guard Base San Juan, Vigilant’s boarding teams worked under the authority of Sector San Juan and with a vast multi-agency task force to conduct a pier side boarding of the vessel and provide security teams to guard the vessel and crew.

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