Coast Guard rescues, repatriates 80 Haitian migrants

Caribbean Sea - A Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba smallboat crew transfers Haitian migrants from an overloaded sail freighter to the small boat for further transfer to the Escanaba Aug. 10, 2007. The group of 101 Haitian migrants were eventually repatriated to Cap Haitien, Haiti Aug. 13, 2007. (Photo by OS3 Joseph Newland)

Cutter Escanaba smallboat crew transfers Haitian migrants - file photo

MIAMI – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba repatriated 80 Haitian migrants to Cap Haitien, Haiti, Tuesday.

The Haitian migrants were rescued from their overloaded and unstable 40-foot wooden sailing vessel approximately four miles south of Matthewtown, Bahamas, Sunday, after being located by a Coast Guard Air Station Detroit, Mich., MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

After a request for assistance under a bilateral agreement with the Government of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba arrived on scene, provided life jackets to the 80 Haitian migrants and, with the assistance of Royal Bahamas Defense Force (RBDF) personnel, safely embarked them on the cutter.

“This case demonstrates the importance of readiness, forward deployment and partnerships,” said Cmdr. Edward Westfall, Escanaba’s commanding officer. “It is rewarding when all of the elements we train for and develop come together to successfully halt illicit trafficking and prevent a tragedy at sea.”

Once aboard Coast Guard cutters, all migrants are provided with food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.

The RBDF vessel HMBS Nortec destroyed the wooden sailing vessel as a danger to navigation.

For more information on how to legally immigrate to the United States, call U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at 1-800-375-5283 or visit the USCIS website at http://www.uscis.gov/.

The cutter Escanaba is a 270-foot medium-endurance cutter homeported in Boston.

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