MIAMI, USA -- The crew of the US Coast Guard Cutter William Flores repatriated 46 Cuban migrants to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba, on Thursday, who were interdicted in two different events this week.
The first interdiction occurred after Coast Guard Sector Key West watch-standers received notification of a 15-foot raft with 29 people aboard south of Key West, Florida, on Saturday. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Pea Island interdicted the migrants and transferred them to the cutter William Flores for repatriation.
The second interdiction occurred after sector Key West watch-standers received notification of 17 migrants on a vessel headed towards Key West on Sunday. Watch-standers launched a Coast Guard Station Key West small-boat crew who arrived on scene, safely embarked the migrants and transferred them to the Coast Guard Cutter Hawk. The migrants were later transferred to the cutter William Flores for repatriation.
“The United States Coast Guard's day-to-day, critical missions including migrant interdiction operations remain steadfast,” said Capt. Brendan McPherson, 7th Coast Guard District chief of enforcement. “We continue to patrol vigilantly to rescue and repatriate undocumented migrants who take to the sea, and together with our partner agencies, will vigorously investigate and prosecute migrant smuggling and associated crimes. There is a controlled, safe, and legal means of migration to the United States. Failing to follow this process is illegal and needlessly endangers the lives of migrants and those sworn to protect our borders.”
Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.
The cutter William Flores is one of the 58 new Sentinel-class fast response cutters (FRC) replacing the Island-class patrol boats. The FRC is capable of speeds in excess of 28 knots and operating in seas up to 18-feet. Armed with a 25-mm chain gun and four .50 caliber machine guns, the fast response cutter provides lethal firepower. The speed, stability and firepower of the FRC deliver tremendous lifesaving, law enforcement and homeland security capabilities in the same package.