New Coast Guard Boat Leads Interdiction Operation

WASHINGTON – Just one month after the delivery ceremony at Coast Guard Station Key West, the Response Boat – Medium’s (RB-M) enhanced capabilities are proving valuable to Coast Guard law enforcement operations in the area.

On November 6, the Coast Guard received a report of a homemade migrant vessel heading north towards the Marquesas Keys, an uninhabited group of islands 30 miles west of Key West, Florida. The RB-M was dispatched from Sector Key West to intercept the vessel, with a smaller special purpose boat capable of making shallow water pick-ups (necessary if the undocumented migrants made it ashore) following the RB-M to the scene. A Special Purpose Craft – Law Enforcement (SPC-LE) was also dispatched to assist.

The RB-M arrived first on scene to find the small, outboard-driven vessel about two miles southwest of the Marquesas Keys making an attempt to go ashore. Though the vessel proved to be fairly agile and was quickly closing the distance to shore, the RB-M used its speed and maneuverability to “shoulder” the vessel, keeping it in deeper water until it could be disabled. Using a boat hook, the RB-M crew disconnected the fuel line to the outboard engine, rendering it inoperable. The fourteen migrants aboard were then safely removed from the vessel.

The Coast Guard formally recognized acceptance of this RB-M, the third to be put into service, in a ceremony at Sector Key West on October 6, 2008. The RB-M is a new small-boat platform that offers increased speed and maneuverability over the service’s aging 41-foot utility boats, which it will eventually replace. Enhanced maritime capabilities and technological advances such as water-jet propulsion, armrest integrated steering and trim controls, self-righting capability and improved crew accommodations all represent significant upgrades over the legacy 41-foot utility boat platform. The first two RB-Ms were delivered to Coast Guard Stations Little Creek, Va., and Cape Disappointment, Wash., earlier this year, and a fourth was recently delivered to Station Milwaukee, WI in October.

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