Coast Guard Repatriates 78 Cubans

MIAMI — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Kodiak Island repatriated 78 Cuban migrants to Bahia de Cubañas, Cuba, Friday who were interdicted during 12 separate events during the past 11 days.

The crew of the motor vessel Erik Spirit embarked four Cuban migrants around 9:30 a.m. March 11, from a raft about 130 miles west of Grand Cayman Island and transferred them to the Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Chandeleur stopped a go-fast vessel with 18 Cuban migrants and one suspected smuggler aboard without incident about 10 miles north of Elbow Cay, Bahamas, around 6:50 p.m. March 12. The Chandeleur crew safely embarked the migrants and the suspected smuggler, who was later transferred to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in Marathon, Fla. One of the Cuban migrants was later transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Around 3:20 p.m. March 13, watchstanders at the Seventh Coast Guard District command center received a call from a good Samaritan who was on scene with a rustic vessel carrying 17 Cuban migrants about 36 miles southeast of the Dry Tortugas, Fla. The Mohawk crew was diverted and safely embarked all 17 Cuban migrants.

Coast Guard Cutter Confidence’s crew located a raft carrying one Cuban migrant about 25 miles east of Key Largo, Fla., around 6 p.m. March 14. Confidence crewmembers safely embarked the Cuban migrant.

Around 5 a.m. Saturday, an HC-130 Hercules aircrew from Air Station Clearwater, Fla., located a rustic vessel carrying five Cuban migrants about 20 miles south of Marathon. A 33-foot special-purpose law-enforcement boat crew from Station Marathon was launched and, once on scene, safely embarked the five Cuban migrants, who were later transferred to the cutter Kodiak Island.

Sunday proved to be a busy day for Coast Guard forces with six interdictions conducted starting with one at about 1 a.m. when the crew of the Confidence located a rustic vessel with three Cuban migrants aboard about 40 miles south of Key West, Fla. Confidence crewmembers safely embarked all three. About one and a half hours later, Confidence crewmembers located two more rustic vessels each carrying four Cuban migrants about 38 miles south of Key West. Confidence crewmembers safely embarked all eight Cuban migrants, two of whom were later transferred to Guantanamo Bay.

An HC-130 Hercules aircrew from Air Station Clearwater spotted a rustic vessel carrying four Cuban migrants about 23 miles southeast of Key West around 4:15 a.m. Sunday. The Mohawk crew arrived on scene and safely embarked all four Cuban migrants.

Confidence crewmembers made another interdiction at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday, safely embarking two Cuban migrants who were found onboard a rustic vessel about 44 miles south of Key West.

The crew of the Chandeleur located a rustic vessel about 17 miles north of Havana around 2 p.m. Sunday carrying 12 Cuban migrants who were non-compliant and would not stop. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Drummond arrived on scene around 6:20 p.m. to assist, but the Cuban migrants still did not stop. Chandeleur crewmembers effectively used an entangling device to stop the rustic vessel at about 8 p.m., and all 12 Cuban migrants were safely transferred to the Chandeleur.

Around 12:40 a.m. Monday, Confidence crewmembers located a rustic vessel carrying three Cuban migrants about 70 miles southeast of Key West and safely embarked all three Cuban migrants.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Farralon located a rustic vessel carrying four Cuban migrants about 30 miles south of Islamorada, Fla., around 2 a.m. Monday. Farralon crewmembers safely embarked the four Cuban Migrants.

“While only one of these 12 recent events involved a go-fast smuggling vessel, the number of landings and interdictions at sea involving go-fast vessels far exceeds the number involving rusticas or rafts,” said Lt. Cmdr. Chris O’Neil, public affairs officer for the Seventh Coast Guard District. “As of March 20, there have been 133 events involving go-fast vessels and 38 events involving rusticas since Oct. 1, 2007. These numbers tell us that Cubans are continuing to endanger themselves and others in attempts to illegally enter the United States. That fact tells us that more needs to be done by Cuban-Americans and the rest of the South Florida community to help dissuade Cuban migrants from making this ill-advised, dangerous and illegal voyage. There remains a safe, controlled and legal means of migration to the United States and encouraging people to circumvent this process needlessly endangers lives, promotes organized crime and causes undue suffering.”

Once aboard cutters, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and necessary medical care.

The Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk is a 270-foot Medium Endurance Cutter homeported in Key West.

The Coast Guard Cutter Confidence is a 210-foot Medium Endurance Cutter homeported in Port Canaveral, Fla.

The Coast Guard Cutter Chandeleur is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in Miami.

The Coast Guard Cutter Drummond is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in Key West.

The Coast Guard Cutter Farralon is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in Miami.

The Coast Guard Cutter Kodiak Island is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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