Coast Guard, CBIG respond to grounded coastal freighter off Mona Island, Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Coast Guard crews working alongside Caribbean Border Interagency Group and Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources personnel are responding Thursday to the grounding of a 185-foot coastal freighter Jireh just off Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

The circumstances surrounding the grounding of the Honduran flagged cargo vessel and its cargo are under investigation.

Most of the people aboard the cargo vessel abandoned the vessel and are safely ashore and accounted for, while the nationalities of all passengers and the precise amount of people onboard the vessel is currently being determined at this time.

Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan received notification of the incident at approximately 6:50 a.m. Thursday from Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, who reported the incident.

Coast Guard watchstanders immediately launched an Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter to the scene and notified federal and state agencies of the situation. The Coast Guard Cutter Cushing is currently on scene assessing the situation, rendering assistance and accounting for all the people who remain onboard the vessel.

At this time no signs of pollution have been detected in the water. Coast Guard pollution response personnel are responding as rapidly as possible and will be arriving on scene Thursday to conduct a more thorough assessment.

Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol agents, Puerto Rico Police Joint Force of Rapid Action and Puerto Rico Department of Natural & Environmental Resources marine units are coordinating to determine a plan of action to transfer the vessel passengers from Mona Island, while the Coast Guard is also coordinating with federal and local agencies to assess any environmental impact that may have been caused by the grounding of the vessel.

In July 2006, CBIG was formally created to unify efforts of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Office of Border Patrol – Ramey Sector, the United States Attorney‘s Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid action (FURA) in their common goal of securing the borders of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal migrant and drug smuggling.

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