Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba returns from 42-day patrol

The USCGC Escanaba (WMEC 907) moored to the pier during a port-of-call in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Nov. 26, 2022. Escanaba completed a 42-day patrol in the Coast Guard’s Seventh District area of operations to support Operation Vigilant Sentry by conducting at-sea interdictions of unsafe and illegal migrant voyages in the Caribbean Sea, which were bound for the United States. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Robert Collins)

The USCGC Escanaba (WMEC 907) moored to the pier during a port-of-call in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Nov. 26, 2022. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Robert Collins)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba (WMEC 907) returned to their homeport in Portsmouth, Thursday, following a 42-day Caribbean Sea patrol.

While underway in the Coast Guard Seventh District’s area of operations and in support of Operation Vigilant Sentry and Homeland Security Task Force – Southeast, Escanaba conducted migrant interdiction and search and rescue operations working with multiple Coast Guard and joint interagency assets to detect, deter and intercept unsafe and illegal maritime ventures bound for the United States.

During the patrol, Escanaba’s crew interdicted two migrant vessels and assisted more than 400 migrants. In one case, Escanaba interdicted 223 Haitian migrants from a sail freighter in Bahamian waters. Escanaba’s crew safely embarked all Haitian nationals with assistance from the Coast Guard Cutter William Flores (WPC 1103). Further, Escanaba’s crew ensured each migrant received humanitarian care after having been at sea for nine days on an unseaworthy vessel. Escanaba repatriated the migrants and transferred them to Royal Bahamas Defense Force officials in Nassau, Bahamas.

In another case, Escanaba’s crew interdicted an overloaded vessel off the coast of Islamorada, Florida with more than 200 Haitian migrants on board. Escanaba worked alongside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations vessel, response boats from Coast Guard Station Islamorada and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Miami.

“Conducting migrant interdiction operations is a mentally and physically demanding mission,” said Cmdr. Ben Spector, commanding officer of Escanaba. “I could not be more proud of this crew’s incredible professionalism and resilience while working alongside other Coast Guard units and interagency partners to effectively preserve life at sea while maintaining the integrity of the U.S. immigration system.”

Escanaba’s rescues highlight the Coast Guard’s critical mission of maintaining safety at sea and preventing the potential for loss of life by deterring migrants from taking to the sea in dangerously overcrowded vessels while attempting to enter the United States through non-legal channels.

Escanaba is a 270-foot, Famous-class medium endurance cutter with a crew of 93. The cutter’s primary missions include homeland security, maritime law enforcement, migrant interdiction, enforcing federal fishery laws, counterdrug operations and search and rescue in support of U.S. Coast Guard operations throughout the Western Hemisphere.

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