MIAMI — The crew of the Miami based, 110-foot Coast Guard Cutter Sitkinak returned home Nov. 26 after completing a two week deployment in the Gulf of Mexico.
The 17-member crew of the Sitkinak deployed to perform law enforcement and search and rescue operations. Over the course of the last two weeks, the cutter's crew performed nearly all of the Coast Guard’s core missions.
Shortly after leaving port, Sitkinak worked closely with Customs and Border Patrol to intercept a go-fast vessel carrying eight illegal immigrants. All persons were safely transferred aboard Sitkinak and later brought ashore for further disposition. The smuggling vessel was seized and brought pier side.
Following several days at sea, Sitkinak made port in Freeport, Bahamas, where they provided school supplies to regions of the multi-island nation that were still suffering from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Approximately $6,500 dollars worth of school supplies and books were donated in a combined charitable effort from John Dinkelman, the Charge d’Affairs at the United States Embassy in the Bahamas, and the crew of the Sitkinak.
During the visit, the crew of the Sitkinak also met with representatives of the Royal Bahamian Police Force to discuss maritime law enforcement strategies.
After leaving the Bahamas, while patrolling off the Coast of Miami, Sitkinak attempted to board the motor yacht Bliss on Saturday, which was returning from the Bahamas. Before the boarding team could get aboard, the vessel quickly became engulfed in flames and the three persons aboard jumped into the water.
"When the motor yacht Bliss caught fire, the crew quickly switched from a law enforcement mindset to a damage control mentality and put to use the fire fighting tactics and trainings that were completed only three weeks prior," said Lt. Keith Blevins, executive officer aboard the Sitkinak
The 110-foot Island Class Cutter Sitkinak has a crew complement of three officers and 14 enlisted personnel. Patrol boats like the Sitkinak and the new 154-foot Fast Response Cutters are the workhorses of America's littoral maritime fleet. Possessing superior speed and flexibility, Coast Guard patrol boats deliver the Coast Guard's unique blend of military capability, law enforcement authority and lifesaving expertise wherever needed along the coast. There are currently three Fast Response cutters stationed in Miami beach, with three more expected to arrive in the coming year. The Sitkinak and the other 40 Island-class patrol boats were commissioned in the late 80's and early 90's, and over time are going to be replace by Fast Response Cutters. Sitkinak is celebrating 25 years of service this year and is expected to be actively serving for many years to come.