MIAMI - The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Bear repatriated 164 Haitian migrants to Cap Haitien, Haiti, this week.
Watchstanders at the Seventh Coast Guard District command center received notification of a grossly overloaded 40-foot sail freighter southwest of Long Island, Bahamas, Jan. 4, 2013. Once the Bear arrived on scene, the crew safely embarked the migrants and repatriated them Thursday.
Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants are provided with food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.
"The patrol presence of our cutters in the Caribbean 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 Cmdr. Timothy Cronin, Seventh Coast Guard District, Assistant Branch Chief for Enforcement. "Coat Guard Alien Migrant Interdiction Operations protect our borders from illicit activity, but they also highlight the humanitarian side of our service. 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."
The Tahoma's crew were operating aboard the Bear as the Tahoma undergoes a nine-month overhaul at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore as part of Coast Guard's Mission Effectiveness Project.
The Bear, Tahoma and other medium endurance cutters are slated for replacement by an Offshore Patrol Cutter. The new OPCs will operate more than 50 miles from land, carrying out the Coast Guard's maritime security and safety activities in support of national interests. The OPC will be an economical, multi-mission ship, providing pursuit boat and helicopter capabilities and interoperability with other military and federal partners, superior to the cutters they replace. Equipped with modern sensors, the Offshore Patrol Cutter will provide the enhanced surveillance necessary to detect threats far from U.S. shores and meet the demands of the Coast Guard's homeland security, search and rescue, law enforcement and other vital missions.
The Coast Guard Cutter Bear is homeported in Portsmouth, VA.
The Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma is homeported in Kittery, ME.
For more information on how to legally immigrate to the United States, contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at 1-800-375-5283 or visit the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov