No mission too great for Coast Guard Cutter Dauntless
Posted by PA3 Richard Brahm, Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Story written by: Ensign Eric Hudson
The United States Coast Guard has many missions varying from search and rescue to aids to navigation. The Coast Guard is also responsible for deterring the unlawful entry of aliens into the U.S. As such, another important role of the Coast Guard is its alien migration interdiction role.
From May 11 through 17, the Coast Guard Cutter Dauntless successfully interdicted two unseaworthy vessels carrying more than 20 Cuban migrants in the Florida Straits, as well as serving as a holding platform for 116 Cuban migrants. While the migrants were aboard the Dauntless, their safety, care and overall well-being was the responsibility of the crew.
On May 11 the crew of the Dauntless interdicted a 25-foot blue “chug chug,” homemade slow, moving vessel, 51 miles south of Key West, Fla.
“The migrants were fleeing Cuba and were in an unseaworthy vessel for more than six days,” said Ensign Eric Hudson, public affairs officer for the Dauntless. “Among the passengers was an injured male who suffered from severe abdominal pains which required immediate medical attention.”
Petty Officer 2nd Class Edwin Casanova, a health services technician aboard the Dauntless, promptly aided the man by dressing and suturing his wounds.
“When I first heard that there was an injured person, I was anxious and looking forward to doing what I was trained to do, then the injured person arrived and I knew exactly what to do and how long I had to do it to take care of the abdominal laceration,” said Casanova. “The next day we had another injury, but this time much worse and I was 100 percent confident of how I should treat him. But at the end of the day knowing I was able to help save someone’s life made was what made me feel the best.”
The remaining 18 passengers were brought aboard the cutter and given dry clothing, food and shelter.
Guided by Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Johnson, the crew cared for the migrants on the Dauntless’ flight deck.
“We treat the migrants with respect and understanding because it is not really a law enforcement boarding, it is a humanitarian mission,” said Johnson.
Later that night, the Coast Guard Cutter Pea Island safely transferred six additional Cuban migrants to the Dauntless.
On May 12, less than eight hours from the last transfer of migrants, the crew of the Dauntless was directed by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection aircraft, to an unseaworthy 20-foot wooden vessel that was carrying 22 Cuban migrants.
“Initially the passengers were reluctant to get aboard the cutter’s small boats,” stated Hudson. “However, a man had suffered a severe leg injury after being struck by the craft’s propellers and his desire for medical treatment prompted others to willingly seek assistance from the Coast Guard and depart their unseaworthy vessel.”
“Transferring the migrants was no easy task, as the migrant vessel’s instability caused great concern for two of our small boat coxswains Petty Officer 1st Class Nicholas Freeman and Petty Officer 2nd Class Chadd Bond,” Hudson said. “The coxswains persevered as a result of their skill and training. As a result, both of the small boats were able to quickly disembark the remaining passengers for transfer to the cutter.”
By the next morning, the crew of the Dauntless would receive an additional 25 migrants bringing the total to 74.
On May 14, it was discovered that two of the migrants suffering from legs injuries had infections and required immediate medical attention.
“The crew safely secured the first man in a rescue basket and lowered him to an awaiting 33-foot Special Purpose Craft – Law Enforcement boat, from Station Key West, for transfer to an awaiting hospital,” Hudson stated.
The second injured migrant’s injuries were more severe and it was determined that he needed to be medevaced by a helicopter.
“The crew of the Dauntless set flight quarters and prepared to receive a Coast Guard MH60-Jayhawk helicopter,” said Hudson. “The talented rescue crew from Clearwater, Fla., lowered their rescue swimmer and safely hoisted the injured migrant.”
He was transferred to medical personnel in the Bahamas and received immediate medical care.
On May 16, the crew of the Dauntless safely transferred their remaining migrants to the Coast Guard Cutter Confidence.
“The crew of the Dauntless has eagerly and professionally performed their humanitarian mission, and they continue to safeguard the seas of the United States,” stated Cmdr. John Pruitt III, the commanding officer of the Dauntless.
The Dauntless is a 210-foot Medium Endurance Cutter with 80 crewmembers homeported in Galveston, Texas.