Coast Guard rescues, returns 214 Haitian migrants

MIAMI – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Spencer returned 214 Haitian migrants to Cap Haitien, Haiti, Monday after the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Pea Island located a grossly overloaded sail freighter about 23 miles east of Cuba Friday evening.

While on a routine Caribbean Sea law-enforcement patrol, the Pea Island crew spotted the overloaded vessel.

The nearby cutter Spencer arrived on scene early Saturday morning and both crews began efforts to rescue the 187 adults, 16 children and 11 infants from the unsafe vessel. During the rescue, one migrant fell overboard from the sail freighter and was immediately recovered in good condition by Coast Guard smallboat crewmembers. No migrants or rescuers were injured during the extensive effort to safely disembark the 214 migrants from the vessel.

“The patrol presence of our cutters off the coast of Haiti continues to prevent the potential loss of life that has occurred too many times when grossly overloaded vessels take to the sea in an attempt to illegally migrate to the United States,” said Coast Guard Capt. Peter Brown, Seventh District chief of law enforcement. “Alien Migrant Interdiction Operations are as much humanitarian missions as they are border security missions. The Coast Guard will continue to rescue Haitian migrants from their peril at sea and will always do so in a professional manner that preserves the dignity of all people.”

All migrants were safely transferred to the cutter and provided basic medical care, food, water and shelter from the elements.

The cutter Spencer is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Boston.
The cutter Pea Island is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in Key West, Fla.

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