US Coast Guard Cutter Forward (WMEC 911) returned to Portsmouth March 3 following a 75-day patrol of the Windward Passage.

During the patrol, Forward’s crew intercepted five unlawful migrant voyages and rescued 33 migrants from one vessel taking on water. Forward provided essential life-saving equipment, to include personal flotation devices and dewatering equipment, to the migrants aboard.

Patrolling in support of Homeland Security Task Force – Southeast and Operation Vigilant Sentry (OVS), within the Coast Guard Seventh District’s area of responsibility, Forward’s crew deterred illegal migration. By conducting routine patrols of the Windward Passage, Forward was able to maintain safety of life at sea and protect U.S. maritime borders.

“We often encounter unseaworthy vessels making attempts to illegally enter U.S. waters,” said Cmdr. Staci Rutsch, commanding officer of Forward. “The Coast Guard’s overt presence in this region is essential to deter dangerous and life-threatening migrant ventures. Our extensive Coast Guard presence in the area significantly decreased the number of migration events. The crew did an outstanding job, around the clock, ensuring that these illegal and unsafe ventures were detected and expeditiously intercepted. Once again, the Coast Guard stands out as the partner of choice for preventing loss of life at sea while protecting the homeland.”

OVS is the 2004 Department of Homeland Security plan that provides structure for deploying joint air and surface assets and personnel to respond to irregular maritime migration in the Caribbean corridor of the United States. Its primary objectives are to protect the safety of life at sea while deterring and dissuading mass maritime migration alongside our federal, state, and local partners.

Additionally, Forward’s crew conducted interactions with valued partners and the local community during a port call to the Dominican Republic. Forward hosted Dominican Republic navy leadership aboard the cutter and discussed ongoing relationships within the region.
Forward’s crew also participated in a community relations project held at a local orphanage in Maimon, Dominican Republic. The crew donated toys and home items as well completed renovation and restoration projects, building stronger relationships between partners.

Forward is a 270-foot, Famous-class medium endurance cutter. The cutter’s primary missions are counter drug operations, migrant interdiction, enforcement of federal fishery laws and search and rescue in support of U.S. Coast Guard operations throughout the Western Hemisphere.