Rhode Island Buoytender Conducts Different Mission in Caribbean ***Photos Available***

KEY WEST, Fla. – A Coast Guard buoy tender from Rhode Island has been patrolling the waters off Key West and supporting migrant interdiction operations for the past three weeks.

The 225-foot cutter Willow, from Newport, R.I., is primarily employed in the Coast Guard’s aids to navigation mission with the responsibility of servicing and maintaining 209 buoys in the North Atlantic.

“Seeing the Willow in action reaffirms how multi-mission oriented the Coast Guard and the 225-foot cutters are,” said Rear Admiral Tim S. Sullivan, commander of the First Coast Guard District located in the northeastern part of the country. Sullivan recently visited the Willow during migrant operations. “The vessel and crew have shown that when you put good crews on ships, give them the right training, give them the right tools, they will be able to perform any mission.”

With assigned medical personnel, large amounts of storage, and a flat buoy deck area of nearly 3,000 square feet, the Willow has been able to accommodate migrants interdicted at sea.

“The Coast Guard has been looking at how we best make use of all the resources we have, and having the Willow for this mission is the right thing to do for the right reasons right now,” said Sullivan.

The Willow has a crew of 42 personnel. In addition to servicing navigational aids, Willow crewmembers conduct fishery boardings in the North Atlantic to ensure that all fishing vessels are in compliance with U.S. laws, as well to safeguard a healthy fish stock and the safety of fishermen at sea.

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