187 Rescued from Small Raft Off Turks and Caicos Islands

Turks and Caicos and Bahamian police forces transfer the survivors to shore (USCG)

Published Dec 24, 2019 11:42 AM by The Maritime Executive

On Saturday, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF), Turks and Caicos Islands Police (TCIP) and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Seneca rescued 187 people from a small raft about 17 miles southwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

A Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew based out of Great Inagua spotted a 30-foot vessel heavily overloaded with people. Coast Guard 7th District watchstanders and the Coast Guard liaison officer for the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands coordinated a response with the RBDF, TCIP and the crew of the Coast Guard cutter Seneca.

The Seneca and a Her Majesty's Bahamian Ship crew arrived on scene and embarked the 187 people between the two ships. The Seneca took aboard 86 people and the Bahamian ship took the remaining 101. The Seneca later transferred the survivors to the TCI Police Marine Unit. No injuries were reported.

As a precautionary measure, the Seneca destroyed the raft, as it posed a hazard to navigation.

"Safety at sea is our number one priority and we are always grateful to work with our international partner agencies to save lives," said Lt. Cmdr. Justin Matejka, Coast Guard liaison officer for the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands. "This case involved 187 people on a 30-foot boat with no safety or communication equipment. That's over a hundred lives traveling in an unpredictable, unforgiving environment with no safety net. Without our intervention, many people could have been injured or worse."