Coast Guard Interdicts 9 Cuban Migrants

MIAMI – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Chandeleur repatriated nine Cuban migrants to Bahia de Cabanas, Cuba, Friday.

At approximately 6 a.m., April 25, the Coast Guard received a report from a crewmember aboard the Eos, an 800-foot tanker ship, stating they had located a raft, with an unknown number of people aboard and some in the water. The Coast Guard immediately diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Cypress, a buoy tender 75-miles away conducting deep-water buoy maintenance, and coordinated with personnel at Moody Air Force Base to provide two HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters from the 41st Rescue Squadron.

While waiting for search and rescue assets to arrive, crewmembers from the tanker Eos recovered the migrants. Aircrews from the 41st Squadron and pararescuemen from the 38th Rescue Squadron airlifted six migrants off the tanker, five adults and one child, which needed immediate treatment for exposure and dehydration. The six were safely transported to West Jefferson Medical Center in New Orleans.

Two remaining Cuban migrants were in good condition and two deceased migrants were later transferred to the cutter Valiant. One of the deceased migrants was later transferred to the coroner’s office in Key West, Fla.

Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules fixed-wing aircraft crews from Air Station Clearwater, Fla., and a naval vessel from Mexico, searched for the two Cuban migrants initially reported missing. After conducting additional survivor interviews it was discovered that two additional Cuban migrants died during the trip but were set adrift bringing the total to four missing. The search for the missing migrants was suspended after searches failed to locate anyone Saturday night.

A Customs and Border Protection aircrew located a rustic vessel approximately 15 miles north of Havana, Cuba, Monday. The crew of the Cutter Key Biscayne was dispatched, and once on scene, embarked six Cuban migrants.
“The amount of effort provided by Coast Guard and Air Force crews was tremendous and we are deeply grateful for their continued support,” said Rear Adm. David W. Kunkel, commander Seventh Coast Guard District. “This case further illustrates the inherent dangers of attempting to enter the U.S. illegally by sea. Four people lost their lives during this ill-fated trip and it could have been prevented.”

Once aboard Coast Guard cutters, all migrants are given food, water, shelter and any necessary medical treatment.

The cutter Cypress is a 225-foot sea going buoy tender homeported in Mobile, Ala.
The cutter Valiant is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Miami.
The cutter Key Biscayne is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in St.Petersburg, Fla.
The cutter Chandeleur is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in Miami.
The 41st and 38th Rescue Squadron’s are located at Moody Air Force Base in Ga.

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