The United States (US) Coast Guard says the crew of its cutter Venturous returned to their homeport in St Petersburg, Florida after a 60-day Caribbean patrol in which 65 Haitian migrants were returned to their homeland.

On Wednesday, the Coast Guard said the Venturous supported the US Homeland Security Task Force – Southeast’s Operation Vigilant Sentry (OVS) and Joint Interagency Task Force – South’s counter-drug missions.

“The migrants were safely transferred to Venturous from Coast Guard cutters Dauntless, Forward and Vigilant. Aboard Venturous, the migrants were given food, water, and basic medical care before being repatriated to the Haitian Coast Guard in Cap-Haïtien, Haiti,” the US Coast Guard said.

It said the Venturous patrolled the South Florida Straits and Windward Passage in the Caribbean Sea within the Coast Guard Seventh District’s area of responsibility “to conduct maritime safety and security missions while working to detect, deter, and intercept unsafe and unlawful migrant ventures bound for the United States.”

The US Coast Guard said the Venturous also hosted the commandant and chief of naval operations of the Dominican Republic Navy during their port call in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, “to discuss capabilities, training and partnerships in the region.”

“Our highest priority is to prevent the tragic loss of life at sea,” said Commander Karen L Kutkiewicz, commanding officer of the Venturous. “Often, interdicting migrants attempting to illegally enter the southeast maritime border turns into urgent rescue when homemade, overloaded, and dangerously unsafe vessels attempt the passage.”

“This mission is challenging both mentally and physically on our crew,” she added. “I am proud of the crew’s care and professionalism displayed in this humanitarian mission.”

The US Coast Guard said OVS was first established in 2004 as the operational plan “to prevent, deter, prepare for, respond to, and recover from maritime migration events in the Caribbean.”

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