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Press Release | Sept. 18, 2023

Coast Guard, park rangers, and M/F Kydon ferry rescue 6 people following migrant vessel capsizing off Mona Island, Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A Coast Guard air and surface units combined efforts with local park rangers and the M/F Kydon ferry crew to rescue six migrants following a vessel capsizing off Sardinera Beach in Mona Island, Puerto Rico, Monday.

Rescued are four men and two women, two Dominican Republic and four Cuban nationals, who reportedly were part of an irregular migrant voyage carrying six people when their vessel capsized near Mona Island’s reef line late Sunday night.

“These six people are very fortunate to be alive,” said Cmdr. Gerard Wenk, “We cannot stress enough the dangers of a migrant voyage in the Mona Passage, especially considering the austere environment and remoteness of Mona Island in the darkness of the night.  Furthermore, migrants who are interdicted at sea will find they will be ineligible for parole and will be returned to the country from where the voyage originated.”

Coast Guard watch standers in San Juan, Puerto Rico received a communication from Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources Park Rangers at 11:30 p.m. Sunday, who relayed hearing screams of distress coming from the water and sighting a flare in the area.

Coast Guard watch standers diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Margaret Norvell and directed the launch of a forward deployed HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft from Air Station Borinquen to search for survivors.  Watch standers further issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast to alert vessel traffic of the ongoing distress and requested assistance from the M/F Kydon ferry vessel that was transiting near Mona Island at the time of the distress.  The M/F Kydon is a passenger/ro-ro cargo ship that operates between Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic.

Once on scene, the Coast Guard aircrew launched an MK-124 flare to illuminate the area and located the person in the water swimming towards Mona Island.  The Coast Guard aircrew proceeded to vector-in a rescue boat crew from the M/F Kydon ferry, who were able to recover the person from the water.  Cutter Margaret Norvell arrived on-scene shortly thereafter and embarked the survivor, who informed of additional people in the water.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard aircrew located the five additional migrants safely on Sardinera Beach who were assisted by responding park rangers on Mona Island.  No injuries or medical emergencies were reported in this case.

Transfer of the migrants is being coordinated with U.S. Ramey Sector Border Patrol agents in Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard Cutter Margaret Norvell is a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in Miami.

U.S. residents inquiring about family members potentially interdicted at sea by the Coast Guard, please contact the office of your local federal U.S. representative or Senator.

Relatives located outside the United States please contact family members who are U.S. residents to follow the same process on your behalf.

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