Coast Guard 7th District Command Center watchstanders received a notification from the Coast Guard Liaison Office in the Bahamas stating that a vessel with 12 people aboard had departed Freeport, Bahamas at approximately 8 p.m., on Thanksgiving, headed for Boynton Beach, Florida and failed to arrive as expected.
The watchstanders diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber (WPC-1101) and directed the launch of Coast Guard Air Station Miami HC-144 Ocean Sentry and Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater HC-130 Hercules airplane crews to search.
During the search, Coast Guard Sector Miami watchstanders received a 911 call reporting a disabled 25-foot vessel with 17 people aboard east of Juno Beach. The watchstanders directed the launch of a Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet 45-foot Response Boat—Medium boat crew, an Air Station Miami airplane crew and a PBSO marine crew. Upon arriving on scene, the rescue crews confirmed the vessel correlated to the reported overdue vessel.
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.
Approximately 467 Haitian migrants have attempted to illegally enter the U.S. via the maritime environment in fiscal year 2020, which began Oct. 1, 2019, compared to 3,704 Haitian migrants in fiscal year 2019. These numbers represent the total number of at-sea interdictions, landings and disruptions in the Florida Straits, the Caribbean, and Atlantic.
Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter, and basic medical attention.