- Title: U.S. Coast Guard patrols Florida Straits near Cuban waters
- Date: 18th July 2021
- Summary: U.S. COAST GUARD AIR STATION MIAMI, OPA-LOCKA, FLORIDA (JULY 17, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE U.S. COAST GUARD MEMBER POINTING TO VARIOUS POINTS ON A LARGE WALL MAP TO SHOW THE FLIGHT PLAN OF THEIR PATROL MISSION AROUND CUBA THAT DAY, SAYING: "So here is Miami... We're somewhere around here... Key West is over here. So... Cuba... Bahamas. So we are coming down here... going like this... and coming back, essentially." (SOUNDBITE) (English) THE FEMALE U.S. COAST GUARD MEMBER POINTING AND CONTINUING TO SAY: "Ok, so I was going up a little bit more. So it's like 40 nautical miles, about 50 miles, so kind of over here." (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE U.S. COAST GUARD MEMBER SAYING ABOUT SOME OF THEIR TYPICAL MISSIONS IN THE WATERS BETWEEN THE BAHAMAS AND CUBA: "A lot of our press releases have boats washing up over there and will make landfall. We try to pick them up and transfer them. Because this is all part of the Bahamas. So that's all the Royal Bahamian Defense Force jurisdiction. So we help them. We have agreements to do so. So if we see something like that, we help them and transfer them over to the Bahamian authorities." A VIEW FROM THE HATCH OF A U.S. COAST GUARD HC-144 OCEAN SENTRY AIRCRAFT SLOWLY OPENING OVER THE WATERS OF THE FLORIDA STRAIGHTS DURING THE PATROL MISSION, AN AIRMAN ENTERS THE FRAME VARIOUS OF AIRMEN MANNING THE PLANE (2 SHOTS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) CAPTAIN JEFF GRANT OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE WHO IS DOING AN EXCHANGE WORK PROGRAM WITH THE U.S. COAST GUARD, SAYING: "My name is Captain Jeff Grant. Last name is spelled G-R-A-N-T. I'm a Royal Canadian Air Force exchange officer here working at Coast Guard Air Station in Miami. (WHITE FLASH) Today is a patrol flight support of sector Key West area of responsibility. (WHITE FLASH) We're looking to do a patrol, see if there is anybody that is distress, needs help." AN AIRMAN STANDING NEXT TO THE OPEN HATCH AND LOOKING OUT INTO THE WATERS (2 SHOTS) VIEW OF THE WATER THROUGH THE OPEN HATCH SEATED CO-PILOT (SOUNDBITE) (English) CAPTAIN JEFF GRANT SAYING: "My biggest concern is people's safety of life. So their safety of life at sea. Each time you take to the waters especially far off shore, it's dangerous, it's risky. (WHITE FLASH) You got to think that especially if it's (a raft) not powered, you're just at the mercy of the winds and the drift. And if it's a high seas state or some weather coming in, it could take water into the raft. " VIEW OF THE WATERS THROUGH WINDOW PILOT SEATED VIEW OF WATER THROUGH COCKPIT WINDOW VIEW OF THE WATERS THROUGH WINDOW (SOUNDBITE) (English) CAPTAIN JEFF GRANT SAYING: "If we find a vessel that is of interest to us, then what we would do is call it in on the radio to (Coast Guard) Sector Key West and they would decide if they want to dispatch a surface asset. They ask us question, we tell them all about it. And then our own judgment too. If we see that vessel, if somebody's waving us down, it looks like they're in distress, that's what would kind of drive the operation from there." VIEW OF THE WATER THROUGH THE OPEN HATCH VARIOUS OF AN AIRMAN ON BOARD WINDOW SHOWING THE WATERS VIEW OF THE WATER THROUGH WINDOW
- Embargoed: 1st August 2021 20:03
- Keywords: Cuban boat flotilla Cuban protests Florida Miami U.S. Coast Guard demonstrations flyover mission interception
- Location: U.S. COAST GUARD AIR STATION MIAMI, OPA-LOCKA, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES
- City: U.S. COAST GUARD AIR STATION MIAMI, OPA-LOCKA, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,United States,Civil Unrest
- Reuters ID: LVA001EMDBARR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Reuters joined a U.S. Coast Guard patrol over the Florida Straits on Saturday (July 17) after U.S. Homeland Security effectively warned Florida boaters not to join a planned flotilla headed for Cuba in solidarity with unprecedented protests in the Communist-led island.
The fleet of vessels is expected to launch from South Florida to Cuba on Monday (July 19) to offer support to Cuban demonstrators who began protesting in large numbers last weekend.
In an apparent response to the planned launch, the Department of Homeland Security issued an advisory on Thursday (July 15) reminding boaters that it is illegal to enter Cuban waters from the U.S. without a permit, saying that boaters who attempt the crossing illegally risk arrest, having their vessels seized, civil and criminal fines of up to $25,000 and even 10 years in prison.
"Boaters departing any United States port with the intention of entering Cuban territorial waters must obtain permission in advance from the U.S. Coast Guard," the notice read.
The same day, the Coast Guard also urged South Florida recreational boaters who were considering sailing into Cuban territorial waters to "not take to the sea", adding that "the waters in the Florida Straits are unpredictable and dangerous".
Reuters joined the crew of an HC-144 Ocean Sentry Aircraft that departed U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Miami in Opa-locka Saturday for a patrol mission that would take it across the Florida Keys, around Cuba and past the Bahamas before returning to base.
Flight crew were looking for any possible vessels in distress, including those that may carry migrants.
Thursday's Coast Guard advisory said that in recent months "20 Cuban migrants from two separate search and rescue cases could not be found in the Florida Straits after their rustic vessels capsized".
"Each time you take to the waters especially far off shore, it's dangerous, it's risky," Captain Jeff Grant of the Royal Canadian Air Force, who is doing an exchange with the U.S. Coast Guard in Miami, told Reuters during the Saturday flight.
"You got to think that especially if it's not powered, you're just at the mercy of the winds and the drift," he said.
Thousands of Cubans have taken part in protests over the past week over shortages of basic goods, curbs on civil liberties, and the government's handling of a surge in COVID-19 infections, in the most significant unrest in decades in the Caribbean island nation.
Throughout the week in the United States, and especially in Florida which has a large community of Cuban exiles, demonstrators have staged protests, waving Cuban flags and calling for change.
Organizers of the flotilla were cited in the media as saying that some of the boats were expected to carry basic supplies and medicine for the demonstrators.
But it was unclear by Sunday if the flotilla was certain to sail or not.
"Came into agreement with all captains that If we don't have more than 100+ boats we won't be taking off!" Osdany Veloz, who was cited in various media reports as among the organizers, said on his Instagram page on Friday (July 16).
(Production: Marco Bello, Mana Rabiee)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None