Coast Guard Cutter Seneca returns to Boston from busy Haitian patrol

Boston – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Seneca returned to Boston Monday following a 50-day deployment, much of which was spent patrolling off the coast of Haiti, resulting in the rescue of 244 Haitian migrants.

On March 31 the Seneca rendezvoused with Coast Guard Cutters Tornado and Key Biscayne to receive 119 migrants who were rescued from a 50-foot sailboat 60 miles south of Key West, Fla. The Seneca crew safely repatriated the migrants two days later in Cap Haitien, Haiti, with the help of two vessels from the Haitian coast guard and a United Nations representative.

Several weeks later, the Seneca crew located a northbound 55-foot sailboat dangerously overloaded with 125 Haitian migrants. After tracking the vessel through the night, boat crews from the Seneca launched in both of the cutter’s small boats in the morning and convinced the migrants to disembark for their own safety.

The migrants received food, water, shelter and necessary medical attention.

During a mid-patrol break in the Dominican Republic, 19 members of the Seneca spent their time off giving back to a community of Haitian refugees living in extreme poverty. Working under the guidance of the Dominican Republic Education and Mentoring Project, the volunteers spent the day constructing a community center in the Caraballo district.

Crewmembers mixed cement, installed a roof, plastered walls, and cleaned the construction site. Later that afternoon, the Seneca crew met with 12 honor students from Boston’s Fenway High School. The students had just arrived for a one-week volunteer project and later finished the work started by the Seneca crew. The community center is now being used as a multi-purpose site for meetings, events, classes, and recreation.

Prior to arriving in Haiti, the Seneca and crew completed 25 landings with an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, Mass., as well as in-flight refueling and cargo hoisting drills as part of the Coast Guard’s required helicopter standardization training. This training proved extremely useful during the patrol as the Seneca embarked an HH-65 Dolphin and crew from Air Station Traverse City, Mich. The Seneca crew used the deployed helicopter to locate potential migrant vessels and show the Coast Guard’s presence during daily patrols of the Haitian coast.

The Seneca is homeported in Boston’s North End and has a crew of 101 active duty personnel who carry out homeland security, search and rescue and law enforcement missions throughout the western hemisphere.

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