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Migrants rescued after sending up flare

migrant boat

A group of 13 Dominican Republic migrants have been rescued and repatriated off Puerto Rico after their boat took on water and a nearby fishing vessel sent up a flare to summon help.

The illegal migrant vessel was spotted one day in November just off Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico.

The operator of a good Samaritan fishing vessel Yamilette found the 25-foot migrant vessel adrift and took it in tow. The Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier responded to a red flare fired by the Yamilette to alert nearby craft.

Once on scene, the crew of Joseph Napier rescued four women and nine men from the 25-foot makeshift vessel that was taking on water. Three men traveling with the group had jumped into the water when they saw land five days earlier and attempted to swim to shore, but are missing at time of writing.

Lt. Matt Miller, Commanding Officer of the Joseph Napier, says, “Thanks to the decisive actions of the good Samaritan and the Joseph Napier crew for quickly and safely removing these persons from a life threatening situation.

Cmdr. Beau Powers, Sector San Juan chief of response, says, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of those who remain missing. This case highlights the inherent danger of operating in the maritime domain, where migrants to often risk losing their lives far when they embark grossly overloaded and unseaworthy vessels to cross the Mona Passage.”

The crew of the Joseph Napier transferred the 13 migrants to the cutter Donald Horsley for their repatriation.

Following the report of the three missing migrants, a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter began a search. Coast Guard rescue crews completed eight air and three surface searches covering 1,334 square nautical miles with no signs of the missing men.

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.

Donald Horsley and Joseph Napier are fast response cutters based in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The image shows a crew member from Joseph Napier inspecting the migrant vessel just off Desecheo Island.

Jan 03, 2020