Coast Guard Cutter William Flores repatriates 26 Cuban migrants

The Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton, a 418-foot Legend Class Cutter, is escorted by the Coast Guard Cutter William Flores off the coast of Miami, Nov. 11, 2014. The Hamilton is the fourth National Security Cutter designed to replace the 378-foot high endurance cutters, which have been in service since the 1960s. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Mark Barney)MIAMI — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter William Flores repatriated 26 Cuban migrants to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba, Thursday.

These repatriations are a result of two separate migrant interdictions at sea within the last week in the south Florida Straits. In each instance, the Coast Guard helped secure the U.S. border and prevented these perilous sea voyages from ending in tragedy.

On Sunday, a Coast Guard Air Station Miami HC-144 aircrew located a migrant vessel southeast of Key West, Florida, with 16 Cuban migrants aboard. The Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma crew arrived on scene and safely embarked all the migrants with no reports of any injuries.

On Sunday, the ship BBC Congo located a migrant vessel southwest of Key West, Florida, with 10 Cuban migrants aboard. The BBC Congo crew embarked all the migrants due to safety of life at sea with no reports of any injuries. The 10 Cuban migrants were then safely transferred to the Cutter Tahoma.

“Safety of life at sea continues to be the Coast Guard’s primary concern,” said Capt. Mark Gordon, chief of enforcement for the Coast Guard 7th District. “The dangerous waters of the Florida Straits can be unforgiving for the unprepared on ill advised and illegal voyages. Immigration policies have not changed and we urge people not to take to the ocean in unseaworthy vessels.  It is illegal and extremely dangerous.”

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.

Since Oct. 1, the Coast Guard 7th District estimates that 2,918 Cubans have attempted to illegally migrate via the sea. This number represents the total number of at-sea interdictions, landings and disruptions in the Florida Straits, the Caribbean and Atlantic.

The Coast Guard Cutter William Flores is a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported out of Key West, Florida. The Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

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