Coast Guard Cutter Vigorous to return home from patrol

CAPE MAY, N.J. – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Vigorous is scheduled to return Thursday to its homeport of Cape May after a five-week law enforcement patrol in the Florida Straits and the Caribbean Sea.

After waving goodbye to family and friends on Dec. 3, 2009, the crew of the Vigorous sailed south to patrol around the southeastern U.S. to interrupt illegal migration and drug smuggling activities.

“Smugglers don’t take a holiday and neither can we,” said Cmdr. Brendan McPherson, the commanding officer of the Vigorous. “It’s been a very busy and productive patrol, but now we look forward to celebrating a belated holiday season with our families and friends.”

The crew of the Vigorous assisted in the interdiction, humanitarian care and repatriation of 45 Cuban migrants attempting to enter the U.S. illegally aboard two separate vessels over the holidays. Four suspected smugglers were also arrested and turned over to agents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency for investigation and potential prosecution. The crew of the Vigorous also conducted extensive training at sea during the patrol including several days of helicopter operations and small boat exercises.

The crew of the Vigorous spent the last week of the patrol taking part in Operation Southeast Watch in support of U.S. government efforts in response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti Jan. 12. They joined hundreds of other Coast Guard men and women aboard six other cutters and more aircraft to provide humanitarian relief and disaster response in the wake of the largest recorded earthquake to hit the region. The crew of the Vigorous was strategically positioned to provide assistance, if needed, and deter illegal migration before being relieved by another cutter.

“The U.S. Coast Guard has a long history of working with the Haitian people and its coast guard,” McPherson said. “Hundreds of Coast Guard men and women are now in the region providing rescue and medical assistance and hundreds more are on the way. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and the thousands of victims of this devastating disaster.”

The crew of the Vigorous, a 210-foot medium endurance cutter, routinely patrol the waters off the Atlantic seaboard and in the Caribbean Sea to carry out a wide range of missions, including search and rescue, homeland security, maritime law enforcement and ports, waterways and coastal security.

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