The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter DEPENDABLE will be returning to homeport, Cape May, New Jersey, on Monday, July 28, 2003, following a 56-day deployment. DEPENDABLE, a 210 foot Medium Endurance Cutter, has a 72-person crew and spends over 185 days a year deployed from the Hague line off the Northeastern United States
to the Caribbean. Her primary missions are law enforcement, search and rescue, and maritime homeland security.
On this deployment, DEPENDABLE focused on conducting Operation Atlantic Venture to enforce fisheries laws and ensure the safety of all who sail offshore from New Jersey to the Gulf of Maine
. In only six weeks, DEPENDABLE boarded over 70 fishing vessels, conducted 7 multi-unit Search and Rescue cases and terminated the voyage of one fishing vessel in especially hazardous condition. In a unique event, DEPENDABLE also escorted a private vessel carrying the First Lady of the United States on a short cruise along the U.S. coast.
Commercial fishing has been noted to be one of the most dangerous jobs in America. In addition to enforcing fisheries laws, DEPENDABLE boarding teams inspected fishing vessels to ensure compliance with the Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Act. This law, which was passed in 1988, protects the lives of every fisherman who goes to sea by requiring specific safety equipment on every fishing vessel. The Coast Guard conducts dockside safety inspections to ensure compliance with the act and ensure the safety of fishermen. For more information or to schedule a safety exam, call (800) 368-5647
The importance of this Act was never clearer than on July 16 when DEPENDABLE was called to locate the Fishing Vessel ILHA BRAVA. ILHA BRAVA had taken on water and sank so quickly that crewmembers were not able to send a distress call. The crew activated an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), which transmitted signals via satellite. The First Coast Guard District Operations Center received this signal and sortied DEPENDABLE and a Coast Guard H60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod, Massachusetts to respond. By the time the Jayhawk arrived on scene in thick fog all that remained was the five-man crew of the ILHA BRAVA sitting on a small raft in the oil slick that was once their vessel. The Jayhawk recovered the crew and transferred them ashore where they were treated at a local hospital and released. DEPENDABLE arrived soon after, recovered the EPIRB, and used it as a training aid during safety inspections of other fishing vessels to demonstrate the importance of having proper safety gear. DEPENDABLE boarding teams enjoyed meeting and supporting the hardworking fishermen of the Northeastern United States
When not conducting boardings and prosecuting search and rescue cases, the crew of the DEPENDABLE was able to enjoy two swim calls at sea and well deserved mid-patrol breaks in Boston, Massachusetts, Portland, Maine, and Newport, Rhode Island. Upon arrival back to Cape May, the crew plans to enjoy time with their families before departing on their next patrol.