Coast Guard repatriates 88 Haitian nationals

MIAMI – Crewmembers from the Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma repatriated 88 Haitian nationals to Cap Haitien, Haiti, Tuesday.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton rescued 88 Haitian nationals from a 50-foot sail freighter that was taking on water 45 miles north of Isle de Tortue, Haiti, around 4 p.m. Saturday. The grossly-overloaded vessel was carrying 63 men, 21 women, three boys and one girl. Crewmembers from the Hamilton safely embarked the 88 people aboard the cutter and provided food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.

The Haitian nationals were further transferred to the Cutter Tahoma Monday.

The U.S. Government is working tirelessly with the Haitian government and international partners to improve living conditions in Haiti after the Jan. 12 earthquake near Port-au-Prince. We remain alert to the possibility of increased illegal migration from Haiti and have increased our patrol presence in the Caribbean to deter unsafe and illegal migration and to rescue those who depart in unseaworthy vessels. Taking to the sea is always risky, but can become even deadlier during the winter months when strong winds and larger than usual waves can easily capsize overloaded and unseaworthy vessels. There are currently no indications increased migration from Haiti by sea is imminent.

During fiscal year 2010, which began Oct. 1, 2009, the Coast Guard has interdicted 210 Haitian nationals. The Coast Guard interdicted 912 Haitian nationals during the same period in fiscal year 2009.

The Hamilton is a 378-foot high-endurance cutter homeported in San Diego, Calif.

The Tahoma is a 270-foot medium-endurance cutter homeported in Portsmouth, N.H.

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