The U.S. Coast Guard is reporting that yesterday two cruise ships responded to migrants at sea in two separate incidents. A Coast Guard representative characterized the migrants as floating in two "rustic vessels" south of Key West Florida.
The cruise ships involved are the Disney Wonder home ported in Miami, and the Carnival Conquest which is based in New Orleans.
Carnival stated that the Conquest picked up 13 Cuban nationals about 40 miles from Key West. (The photo released by Carnival shows men aboard what appears to be a yellow rubber boat around 18'). The Carnival cruise ship then rendezvoused with a Coast Guard cutter near Key West to transfer the Cubans to the custody of the U.S.
Disney stated that the Wonder picked up eight people about 45 miles from Key West, but did not disclose their nationality. You can see photos of the boat of Cubans here.
The migrants were reportedly half way between Havana and Key West when they were stopped.
Numerous media accounts are suggesting that it is currently unknown what would be done with the migrants, but that's nonsense. In all cases I have seen where cruise ships picked up Cubans on the high seas the Coast Guard sends them back to Cuba.
Carnival has been under criticism for relying on the Coast Guard when its ships catch on fire and are disabled at sea but it does not reimburse the federal government, The cruise line took advantage of the event to try and get some good press. Its President Gerry Cahill stated in a press release:
“We are happy to have come to the aid of these individuals and to support the long-established tradition among the global maritime community of providing assistance to mariners in distress.”
I'm not too sure that the Cuban refugees will be too "happy" when they end up in a jail courtesy of Castro's Cuba.
Leave a comment or join the discussion on Facebook: Is this a "rescue" or an "interception?"
Migrants in boat: Carnival via WWL TV
Chart: Daily Mail