Coast Guard Search and Rescue Assets Return to Florida Keys
ORLANDO, Fla. — All Coast Guard small-boat and cutter search and rescue assets, in addition to essential personnel assigned to units in the Florida Keys, had returned to the Keys by Sept 15, the service reported.
Coast Guard assets and personnel were moved away from the Keys for safety purposes during Hurricane Irma. All four 45-foot Response Boat-Mediums and five 33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement boats and necessary crew members have returned to Stations Islamorada, Marathon and Key West.
Crew members from Coast Guard fast-response cutters Charles Sexton, Isaac Mayo and Raymond Evans and the national security cutter Hamilton have been running search and rescue and law enforcement operations in the Keys while the station crews were displaced.
Rescue 21 towers at all Keys locations have also become operational via generator power and are functioning as communications towers for Sector Key West operations specialist working out of Martinsburg, W.Va. Operations specialists are working out of West Virginia until it is safe to return to the sector’s base in Key West.
“Search and rescue efforts in the Keys have been ongoing with limited capabilities despite local crews and assets being displaced from the area with coverage coming from fellow Coast Guard Seventh District and Atlantic Area units,” said Lt. Quentin Long, small-boat manager, Coast Guard Sector Key West. “I know our crews are excited to be back operating in their area of responsibility despite the continuing efforts to rebuild and reconstitute the port in the months to come.”
Search and rescue efforts have also been supplemented by personnel and assets from Coast Guard Air Stations Miami and Clearwater, U.S. Navy, Florida National Guard and various other federal, state and local agencies.