USCG Launches Massive Search for 39 People After Migrant Boat Capsizes

cutter ibis
The cutter Ibis engaged in the search off Fort Pierce, Florida, Jan. 25 (USCG)

Published Jan 25, 2022 11:49 PM by The Maritime Executive

U.S. Coast Guard search crews are looking for dozens of survivors from a migrant vessel that capsized en route from the Bahamas to Florida. The agency has launched a massive search effort, and it believes the incident is a human smuggling case. 

On Tuesday at about 0800, a good Samaritan contacted Sector Miami and reported that he had rescued a man clinging to a capsized vessel about 45 miles to the east of Fort Pierce, Florida. The survivor was brought to a local hospital and treated for symptoms of dehydration and sun exposure.

The survivor told his rescuers that he left Bimini, Bahamas with 39 other people on Saturday night. The boat encountered severe weather, and it capsized on Sunday morning. The survivor said that no one in the boat was wearing life jackets. 

Over the weekend, the weather conditions in the area of the casualty were unforgiving for a 25-foot vessel. The forecast called for a severe cold front with 17-23 mph winds and 7-9 foot seas, and a small craft advisory was in effect.

Coast Guard SAR crews plan to search through Tuesday night in case there are any survivors. The cutters Ibis, Etheridge and Skipjack are deployed for the search, along with response boats, multiple Coast Guard and U.S. Navy aircraft, and one Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteer aircrew.