Three Bahamians and 14 Haitians were rescued from a disabled vessel in waters east of Juno Beach, Florida, last Saturday, according to U.S. Coast Guard Spokesman Jonathan Lally.
“We got a notification from the Coast Guard liaison officer out of The Bahamas stating that there was a vessel with 12 people aboard that departed Freeport, Bahamas, around 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day,” he said.
“They were headed towards Boynton Beach, Florida, and had failed to arrive as expected.
“So, the watchstanders diverted Coast Guard Cutter Bernard Webber, and directed a launch of a few of our airplane assets – one from Air Station Miami and one from Air Station Clearwater.”
During the search, the watchstanders received a 911 call reporting a disabled 25-foot vessel with 17 people aboard east of Juno [Beach].
When the coastguard received that notification, Lally said command launched a Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet 45-foot Response Boat medium boat crew.
“We also had the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, which had a marine unit that arrived on scene, and upon arrival the rescue crews confirmed the vessel correlated to the reported overdue vessel,” he said.
“Once on scene, Coast Guard crews assessed the people and identified 14 Haitian migrants and three Bahamian migrants. The migrants were safely embarked aboard the cutter Bernard C. Webber. The migrants were transferred to the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF).”
In a statement, the coastguard indicated that once aboard the Coast Guard cutter, all migrants received food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.
According to RBDF Chief Petty Officer Jonathan Rolle, the 14 Haitians were handed over to the Department of Immigration, and the three Bahamians were handed over to police.