Seven Days in the Sev­enth

Think you had a tough week? Try keep­ing pace with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Yachts International - - Contents - By An­drew PArkin­son

Think you had a tough week? Try keep­ing pace with the U.S. Coast Guard’s busiest dis­trict.

At an event in Miami last win­ter, U.s. Coast Guard Com­man­dant Ad­mi­ral Paul Zukunft de­liv­ered a riv­et­ing speech de­tail­ing a week in the fre­netic life of the ser­vice’s busiest dis­trict: the sev­enth. the most ac­tive of nine Coast Guard dis­tricts, the sev­enth is re­spon­si­ble for a 1.8-mil­lion-square-mile area that in­cludes op­er­a­tions in the southeast United states and the Caribbean Basin in­clud­ing Puerto rico and the U.s. vir­gin is­lands, and 34 for­eign na­tions and ter­ri­to­ries. Guard­ing our south­ern ap­proaches and tran­sit zones, it rep­re­sents the front lines of mar­itime home­land se­cu­rity in our hemi­sphere. Ac­cord­ing to Zukunft, it’s the “cen­ter of grav­ity” for Coast Guard op­er­a­tions. the fol­low­ing is adapted from Zukunft’s ad­dress and de­scribes por­tions of a week in the life of the sev­enth.

Novem­ber 1, 2014

Coast Guard Sec­tor San Juan re­ceives an ur­gent re­port that six Cuban mi­grants have landed on Mona Is­land. Fast Re­sponse Cut­ter Kath­leen Moore re­sponds. All six mi­grants are re­cov­ered. One, with an in­jury, re­ceives med­i­cal at­ten­tion on board the cut­ter. The case is co­or­di­nated with Bor­der Pa­trol, which takes cus­tody.

At roughly the same time, 18 nau­ti­cal miles south of Big Pine Key, Florida, a mi­grant trans­fer is tak­ing place be­tween cut­ters Res­o­lute and De­pend­able. Both are al­ready con­duct­ing on­go­ing mi­grant repa­tri­a­tion cases re­sult­ing from in­ci­dents in the days be­fore, through an in­ter­a­gency process called Mar­itime Op­er­a­tional Threat Re­sponse (MOTR), which coun­ters per­ceived mar­itime threats. Dur­ing the frst fve years of its ex­is­tence, MOTR has been used in more than 1,000 mar­itime sit­u­a­tions rang­ing from mi­grant in­ter­dic­tions and drug seizures to ter­ror­ism and piracy. Af­ter the trans­fer, De­pend­able holds 24 Cuban mi­grants and 22 Haitian mi­grants.

A few hours later, cut­ters Har­riet Lane and Far­al­lon in­ter­cept a Haitian sail freighter 18 nau­ti­cal miles south of Lit­tle Am­ber­gris Cay in the Turks and Caicos. Coast Guard he­li­copters from Op­er­a­tion Ba­hamas, Turks and Caicos—a Coast Guard, Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion (DEA) and Ba­hamian gov­ern­ment part­ner­ship to com­bat drug and hu­man smug­gling to and from the Ba­hamas—ar­rive to as­sist. Sixty-four Haitian mi­grants are re­cov­ered at sea.

To the north, Coast Guard Sec­tor Miami con­tin­ues its re­sponse to the Oc­to­ber 31 ground­ing of cruise ship Ba­hamas Cel­e­bra­tion, where 700 pas­sen­gers are be­ing of­foaded af­ter the ship ran aground and was se­verely dam­aged.

The day’s ac­tiv­i­ties to­tal 13 law en­force­ment and search and res­cue cases, the ground­ing and the in­ter­dic­tion of 223 mi­grants.

Novem­ber 2

The day sees 15 more law en­force­ment and search and res­cue cases, in­clud­ing the med­i­cal evac­u­a­tion of a 78-year-old woman from a ves­sel nearly 300 miles off Jack­sonville, Florida.

Novem­ber 3

The dis­trict han­dles 19 on­go­ing cases. The Tac­ti­cal Law En­force­ment Team is on board an 85-foot freighter, which the team must dis­em­bark be­cause of food­ing, how­ever, testing fnds ev­i­dence of co­caine. The team con­ducts de­wa­ter­ing with an in­ter­a­gency law en­force­ment team and the DEA.

At 0644, a Coast Guard air unit spots a 25-foot go-fast boat trav­el­ing north at 30 knots. Cued by in­tel­li­gence, Dutch war­ship Hol­land, car­ry­ing air­craft from the Coast Guard’s He­li­copter

In­ter­dic­tion Tac­ti­cal Squadron, pur­sues. A he­li­copter is launched and em­ploys warn­ing shots and dis­abling fre to halt the go-fast. Coast Guard law en­force­ment later boards the boat, seizes 156 ki­los (nearly 350 pounds) of co­caine and ar­rests the three smug­glers on board.

Mean­while, work­ing with the Ba­hamian gov­ern­ment and the Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Board, Coast Guard Sec­tor Miami sends ad­di­tional per­son­nel and tech­ni­cal ex­perts to in­ves­ti­gate the cruise ship ground­ing and mon­i­tor the on­go­ing evac­u­a­tion of the re­main­ing pas­sen­gers.

Novem­ber 4

Cut­ter Har­riet Lane es­corts a seized mo­tor ves­sel from Guan­tanamo Bay, Cuba, back to Colom­bia for pros­e­cu­tion. The dis­trict re­sponds to nine more search and res­cue cases.

Novem­ber 5

Cut­ters De­pend­able, Ray­mond Evans and Thetis are in­volved in at-sea mi­grant trans­fers and await fnal de­ci­sion on the fates of 157 Haitian and Cuban mi­grants. There are 10 more search and res­cue cases.

Novem­ber 6

An Air Force F-16 crashes 70 nau­ti­cal miles south of Panama City, Florida. Dis­trict Seven co­or­di­nates with Dis­trict Eight, the Air Force and the Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion to scram­ble an H-60 he­li­copter from Coast Guard Air Sta­tion Clear­wa­ter and a 45-foot re­sponse boat from Sta­tion Panama City in a col­lab­o­ra­tive re­sponse with the Depart­ment of De­fense.

Later that night, Fast Re­sponse Cut­ter Bernard Web­ber re­ceives pa­trol air­craft in­tel­li­gence on a mi­grant ves­sel ap­proach­ing Key West. Bernard Web­ber in­ter­cepts and res­cues 18 Cuban mi­grants, in­clud­ing two chil­dren, all re­quir­ing im­me­di­ate med­i­cal at­ten­tion.

Novem­ber 7

Cap­tain of the Port of Miami de­tains mo­tor ves­sel Flint Trader for un­safe op­er­a­tion. The ship was con­sid­ered a threat to safety of life at sea and to the marine en­vi­ron­ment. Fif­teen dis­crep­an­cies will have to be re­solved be­fore the ship is al­lowed to sail.

An­other week draws to a close in the Coast Guard’s Sev­enth Dis­trict. The above is just a por­tion of the ac­tiv­i­ties that ac­tu­ally took place. There were nearly 100 cases in all, in­volv­ing hun­dreds of sea­men, air­men, fre­fghters, of­fcers, com­man­ders, cap­tains and ad­mi­rals.

Zukunft some­times refers to the Coast Guard as a “si­lent ser­vice.”

“I re­cently spoke with a Coast Guard res­cue swim­mer, Corey Fix, at an event in An­chor­age,” Zukunft said. “He had saved 13 lives that year. His sto­ries read like scenes from the movie ‘The Guardian.’ When asked about it, his re­sponse was mod­est at best: ‘Well, it just hap­pened to be my duty day, and this is what I do.’”

For more in­for­ma­tion: The Coast Guard Foun­da­tion, 860 535 0786, coast­guard­foun­da­tion.org

top to bot­tom: Haitian mi­grants are trans­ferred to Coast Guard Cut­ter Res­o­lute af­ter be­ing in­ter­dicted; a crewmem­ber hands a meal to a Cuban child in the Straits of Florida; a U.S. Coast Guard Law En­force­ment De­tach­ment team con­ducts a live-fre ex­er­cise u

above: A he­li­copter crew pre­pares to fre dur­ing a train­ing ex­er­cise. right: Petty Of­fcer 3rd class Brice Fronek, with Coast Guard Cut­ter Bernard C. Web­ber, guards con­tra­band at Coast Guard Base Miami Beach.

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