Massive Haitian Refugee Rescues off Bahamas

By George Backwell
Friday, August 22, 2014
Cutter 'Paul Clark': File photo

Coast Guard crews and Royal Bahamian Defence Force (RBDF) rescued more than 400 Haitians illegally migrating in three separate at sea interdictions in the span of 11 days, informs the US Coast Guard.

Monday, an aircrew aboard a Coast Guard C-130 aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater located a 40-foot sail freighter riding low west of Ragged Island, Bahamas. Her Majesty’s Bahamian Ship Arthur Dion Hanna arrived on scene the following day and safely disembarked 124 Haitian migrants and transported them to Coral Harbour Base for further processing. The vessel was grossly overloaded with 100 males, 16 females and eight children.

Thursday, the RBDF interdicted approximately 180 Haitian migrants aboard another dangerously overloaded sail freighter illegally migrating northwest of Great Exuma Island, Bahamas. There was no Coast Guard involvement in this case.

Earlier, crew aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Paul Clark interdicted and safely disembarked 101 Haitian migrants aboard an overloaded sail freighter before turning them over to the RBDF.

“I want to express my thanks and appreciation for the assistance received from the United States Coast Guard in providing critical information which culminated in the apprehension of the migrant vessel,” said Commodore Roderick Bowe, commander of the Royal Bahamian Defence Force.

Cronin added, “We will continue to diligently patrol the waters with our interagency partners to rescue and repatriate undocumented migrants who take to the sea. There is a controlled, safe, and legal means to enter the United States and we urge people to follow that process.”

In fiscal year 2014, the Coast Guard 7th District estimates that 4,921 Haitians, 3,216 Cubans and 539 Dominicans have attempted to illegally migrate via the sea. These numbers represent the total amount of at-sea interdictions, landings and disruptions in the Florida Straits, the Caribbean and Atlantic.

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