Destroyer Rescues 26 Migrants off Florida

Rescuees from the vessel transfer to the cutter Sexton (USCG)

By The Maritime Executive 03-12-2019 07:31:24

On Friday, the crew of the U.S. Navy destroyer USS James E. Williams helped rescue 26 people from a vessel in distress off the coast of Florida.

The Williams was conducting routine operations when the officer of the deck heard over VHF about a vessel in distress about 40 nm off Long Key, about 30 nautical miles away from the destroyer's position. "The OOD called me with his intentions to render assistance to the vessel in distress,” said Cmdr. Joe Fals, commanding officer of James E. Williams. "I concurred with his plan and we set out to reach the vessel.”

When they arrived on scene, crew members deployed in a rigid-hulled inflatable boat and checked on the welfare of 26 people aboard the vessel. Several of the people reported not feeling well, and the Williams' crew provided bottled water and remained with the vessel until the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Charles Sexton could arrive to pick up those aboard.

Once the Sexton arrived, the Williams helped transfer the passengers over to the cutter. Before departing the scene, they sank the vessel as a hazard to navigation. "From start to finish, the crew demonstrated top-tier professionalism," said Fals. "I couldn’t be prouder of them."

The Coast Guard said that the vessel was a sailboat in poor condition, and that its passengers were migrants from Cuba.