Thursday, September 20, 2007

Coast Guard Battles Smugglers

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dependable returns home Sept. 20 after a 46-day deployment. U.S. Coast Guard file photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Lutz

Cape May County Herald

CG Cutter Dependable Returns After 46 Days
coast guard | 4 min 25 sec ago

By Herald Staff

CAPE MAY — The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Dependable are scheduled to return to their homeport here today following a 46-day deployment in southeast U.S. and the Florida Straits.

According to a release, Dependable’s patrol was in support of homeland security, customs and immigration, law enforcement and search and rescue operations off the U.S. coast. The crew also completed a three-week annual training program in Norfolk, Va., prior to returning home.

Once in the Florida Straits patrol area, the crew was involved in several high-speed chases of go-fast boats who were attempting to smuggle Cuban migrants into the United States.

The crew of the Dependable, the cutter's 24-foot small boat crew and an embarked helicopter crew coordinated efforts with other Coast Guard units to intervene before they could enter the United States. One case resulted in the use of disabling fire to stop the boat.

During the patrol, the cutter crew assisted in stopping three go-fasts, disrupted the travel of another, interdicted 50 Cuban migrants, provided food, water, and medical care and served as an at-sea holding platform for a total of 116 Cuban migrants who were stopped trying to unlawfully enter the United States and who were awaiting repatriation to Cuba.

In addition to homeland security operations, the Dependable crew was called on to assist in two search and rescue cases. The crew was credited with saving five people after their 25-foot pleasure craft became disabled and took on water 23 miles southwest of Cape Romano, Fla.

Four of the people, including two children, entered the water during the night and were treading water for more than eight hours. The cutter's embarked helicopter crew located the people in the water, and the cutter's small boat crew arrived on scene and pulled them from the water.

The fifth person was removed from the disabled boat before it capsized. The crew also assisted in responding to a commercial fishing boat, which was taking on water approximately 30 miles north of the Marquesas Islands, Fla.

Following completion of the operational assignment in the Florida Straits, the crew of the Dependable reported to Little Creek, Va., for Tailored Annual Cutter Training. TACT is a three-week period which tests the crews damage control, navigation, medical, gunnery and shiphandling skills.

The crew also received shipboard firefighting and rescue swimmer training. The crew completed 135 drills with an overall average score of 99 percent, making the ship eligible for the Coast Guard's Operational Readiness "Battle E" award.

During the transit to Cape May, the crew of the Dependable was diverted to search for signs of distress after a vessel saw six flares off Cape Henlopen. The case is still ongoing.

The Coast Guard Cutter Dependable is a 210-foot medium-endurance cutter, homeported at Coast Guard Training Center here.

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