Greek-owned Kydon ferry joins USCG in saving migrants

   September 19, 2023 ,   Accidents

Mona Island, situated between Dominicana and Puerto Rico, has become a magnet for human traffickers seeking to transport migrants to the USA. Consequently, the US Coast Guard frequently conducts rescue operations in this perilous area, often with the assistance of compassionate civilian vessels.

On Monday, September 18th, the crew of the Greek-owned ferry Kydon demonstrated their swift response to an emergency situation unfolding off Mona Island's Sardinera Beach.

While a significant portion of Mona's coastline is characterized by jagged and inaccessible terrain, Sardinera Beach presents a more inviting landscape. This stretch of pristine white sand serves as the base for the Park Ranger Corps, a division of Puerto Rico's natural resources department. Additionally, the beach benefits from the protective presence of a reef running parallel to its shoreline.

Late on Sunday night, a vessel carrying migrants capsized perilously close to the reef line just off Sardinera. Six individuals found themselves immersed in the water, their desperate cries for help capturing the attention of the rangers stationed ashore.

Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the Ranger Corps promptly initiated contact with the U.S. Coast Guard at ~11:30 p.m. The Coast Guard's San Juan base immediately redirected the cutter USCGC Margaret Norvell and dispatched an Ocean Sentry search aircraft to scour the area in search of survivors.

Additionally, Sector San Juan requested the assistance of the car ferry Kydon. Operating regular routes between Santo Domingo and San Juan, the Kydon happened to be in proximity to Mona Island at the time and promptly altered its course to provide aid.

The Ocean Sentry aircrew reached the scene ahead of other responders and employed a flare to illuminate the water's surface. Their keen eyes detected an individual making their way toward the shore, prompting them to guide a rescue boat from the Kydon to retrieve this survivor. Once safely on board, the survivor conveyed that five more individuals were still in the water, awaiting rescue.

Meanwhile, the Ocean Sentry aircrew continued their search and was relieved to discover that the remaining five migrants had successfully reached the shores of Sardinera Beach. The park rangers stationed there promptly offered assistance to these survivors.

Miraculously, all six migrants managed to survive the harrowing capsizing ordeal without sustaining any injuries. The USCG and the Ranger Corps are currently collaborating with Customs and Border Protection to facilitate the transfer and processing of all six individuals.

Commander Gerard Wenk (Coast Guard Sector San Juan) emphasized the fortunate survival of these individuals, underscoring the perils associated with embarking on migrant voyages through the treacherous Mona Passage, particularly given the harsh and remote environment of Mona Island, especially during nighttime. Furthermore, migrants apprehended at sea will be ineligible for parole and will be returned to their country of origin.

The Anek Lines-owned ship Kydon (1990-built, IMO 8916607) has DWT/deadweight tonnage 7000 and is currently Bahamas-flagged and registered in Nassau.