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Press Release | Nov. 28, 2023

Coast Guard, CBP, Dominican Republic Navy rescue 60 migrants from makeshift vessel taking on water

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Coast Guard air and surface units combined efforts with a Customs and Border Protection aircrew and a Dominican Republic Navy patrol boat to rescue 60 migrants from a 35-foot makeshift vessel taking on water off the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic.

Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan were alerted late Monday night by the aircrew of a Coast Guard HC-144 ocean sentry aircraft who detected the grossly overloaded vessel, approximately 13 nautical miles offshore.

Watchstanders diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier and notified the Dominican Republic Navy of the situation.  The aircrew of a Customs and Border Protection multi-role enforcement aircraft, which had relieved the Coast Guard aircraft to maintain air support coverage, vectored-in the cutter Joseph Napier to the makeshift vessel’s position.  Once on scene, the cutter Joseph Napier used the cutter’s Over the Horizon boat to approach the vessel and provide lifejackets to all the persons onboard.  Due to the instability of the grossly overloaded vessel and the vessel taking on water, the Joseph Napier crew embarked seven of the migrants as a Dominican Republic Navy vessel arrived on scene.  The Dominican Republic Navy crew continued to safely embark the remaining migrants, and they also received the seven migrants from the cutter Joseph Napier.  

"I am extremely proud of our crew's execution of last night’s rescue," said Lt. Matthew Carmine, Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier commanding officer. “Their seamless interoperability with our CBP and Dominican Navy counterparts helped save 60 lives."

The Coast Guard, along with its Homeland Security Task Force – Southeast partners, maintains a continual presence with air, land, and sea assets in the Florida Straits, the Windward Passage, the Mona Passage, and the Caribbean Sea. The HSTF-SE combined, multi-layered approach is designed to protect the safety of life at sea while preventing unlawful maritime entry to the United States and its territories. 

Migrants who are interdicted at sea or apprehended ashore will not be allowed to stay in the United States or a U.S. territory. Furthermore, anyone who arrives unlawfully may be declared ineligible for legal immigration parole options and be repatriated to their country of origin or returned to the country from where the voyage departed from.

Since Oct. 1, 2023, through Oct. 31, 2023, the Coast Guard has carried out nine unlawful irregular migration voyage interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico. Interdicted during this period, are 206 non-U.S. citizens including 201 Dominicans, and five Haitians.

Since Oct. 1, 2022, through Sep. 30, 2023, the Coast Guard has carried out 67 unlawful irregular maritime migration voyage interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico. Interdicted during this period, are 2,161 non-U.S. citizens including 1,871 Dominicans, 264 Haitians, 15 Venezuelans, 07 Kazakhs, 01 Albanian, 02 Colombians and 01 unknown nationality. 

Cutter Joseph Napier is a 154-foot Sentinel class fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

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. 

Make a difference on land, at sea or in the air with the Coast Guard.  Visit to find out how to be part of a team.  

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