Coast Guard Cutter Dependable to return home from 62-day deployment

CAPE MAY, N.J. – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Dependable is scheduled to return to their homeport here Thursday at about 6:30 p.m. following a 62-day patrol between Haiti and Cuba in the Windward Pass in support of homeland security, customs and immigration, law enforcement, and search and rescue operations.

Prior to departing the waters off the coast of New Jersey at the beginning of February, the cutter assisted the fishing vessel Storm, which was taking on water 66 miles east of Atlantic City due to a fist-sized hole in the stern portion of the engine room. A rescue and assistance team from the cutter was able to patch the hole, allowing the fishing boat crew to transit under their own power back to Point Pleasant, N.J.

Immediately upon entering the Windward Pass patrol area, the Dependable received 94 Haitians from another Coast Guard cutter crew who had intercepted them from two separate attempts to migrate from Haiti to the United States. Once aboard Dependable, the crew cared for the migrants until they were transferred to the Haitian Coast Guard in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Haitian migrants often attempt to make the journey to the Bahamas or the United States aboard overcrowded, small wooden sailboats. The crew of the Dependable and Coast Guard air crews disrupted at least one attempt to leave Haitian waters by a small sailboat with more than 125 people aboard.

In addition to enforcing immigration policy, Dependable’s 75-member crew was called on to assist in four other search and rescue cases.

The helicopter crew embarked aboard the Dependable spotted a small wooden Haitian sailboat in distress Feb. 18 about 29 miles northeast of Haiti. Upon arriving on scene, the crew of the Dependable found the sailboat’s wooden mast had broken during a storm the night before. The crew of the Dependable towed the sailboat and its five occupants back to Cap du Mole, Haiti.

On Feb. 29 the cruise ship Westerdam, located south of Haiti, reported having two elderly passengers in need of immediate medical care. The crew of the Dependable coordinated rescue plans and launched their helicopter, which safely airlifted both people during early morning hours to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, for medical care and further transport to the United States.

Additionally, the Dependable crew assisted two other Haitian sail freighters. These wooden boats are typically 40 feet long, with no engines or electronics other than a simple magnetic compass and make cargo runs between the Bahamas and Haiti. The Dependable crew provided food and water to the crew of one boat after they had gone several days without either, and they rescued the crew of another sail freighter after their boat began taking on water and became disabled in rough seas.

While on patrol in the Caribbean, the crew also assisted the small island community of Great Inauga, Bahamas. Twenty-six crew members spent part of the day revitalizing a small airport terminal building and a runway in the town of Matthewtown March 15.

The Great Inagua Airport is located approximately 350 miles from Nassau, Bahamas. The island and airfield are important to the United States and Bahamian partnership to help stop the illegal importation of drugs and to combat illegal immigration.

“We have had a long and successful relationship with the Bahamas,” said Lt. Cmdr. Terry Johns, executive officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Dependable. “This was just one small gesture to demonstrate our continued support and friendship.”

The Coast Guard Cutter Dependable is a 210-foot, medium-endurance cutter homeported at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, N.J.

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