Dozens of Cuban migrants turned back by U.S. Coast Guard
Cutter Pea Island
In three separate incidents during the Christmas holiday, in the waters off south Florida and northern Cuba, U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats intercepted 26 Cuban migrants and returned them to their home country.
On Dec. 24, crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Ocracoke interdicted eight Cuban migrants aboard what the Coast Guard called “a rustic vessel” north of Mariel, Cuba. The cutter crew safely embarked, and transferred, the migrants to the Key Biscayne.
On the same day, Cutter Ocracoke interdicted six more Cuban migrants aboard a similar vessel south of Marathon, FL, after the boat was detected by a Coast Guard HC-144 maritime patrol aircraft. The migrants were safely embarked on the Ocracoke, and were later transferred to the Key Biscayne.
On Dec. 25, crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Pea Island interdicted 12 Cuban migrants aboard another rustic vessel south of Key West, FL, said the Coast Guard.
All 26 migrants, said the Coast Guard, were repatriated to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba, on Dec. 28 by the Coast Guard Cutter Key Biscayne.
“Migrants attempting to illegally enter the United States by boat often travel aboard dangerously overloaded and ill-equipped vessels," said, Capt. Brendan McPherson, 7th Coast Guard District chief of enforcement. "People aboard these vessels are putting their lives at extreme risk, so the Coast Guard with our partner agencies will continue to patrol vigilantly to rescue and repatriate undocumented migrants who take to the sea."
Once aboard its cutters, the Coast Guard said all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.
The Pea Island and other Island-class patrol boats are being replaced by 58 new, Sentinel-class fast response cutters (FRC), said the Coast Guard. The FRC will be capable of speeds in excess of 28 knots and operating in seas up to 18-feet. The speed and stability of the FRC deliver tremendous lifesaving, law enforcement and homeland security capabilities in the same package.