U.S. Coast Guard Wraps Up Rescue Efforts in the Bahamas

September 17, 2019 2:30 PM
A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crewmember assists a group of people needing medical attention in the Bahamas on Sept 4, 2019. US Coast Guard Photo

THE PENTAGON — The U.S. Coast Guard is winding down its urgent search and rescue operations in the Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, the service announced on Tuesday.

The cutters and helicopters deployed to assist emergency responders in the Bahamas had returned to their home stations in the U.S. and relief efforts on the islands shift to long-term recovery activities, a statement said.

The Coast Guard had sent five MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters operating out of Andros Island, Bahamas and five cutters to the region.

Hurricane Dorian first made landfall on the Bahamas on Sept. 1 as a powerful category 5 storm. Two-weeks after Dorian hit, the Bahamian government reported nearly 70,000 people were displaced by the storm, about 1,300 people are listed as missing and 50 deaths were storm-related but expect this total to increase as recovery efforts continue, according to numerous media accounts, including by The Associated Press.

During the past two weeks, U.S. Coast Guard rescue crews received 1,388 search and rescue calls, conducted 136 aviation sorties, 62 surface sorties and rescued 407 people, according to the Coast Guard.

The U.S. Government has provided approximately $21 million in aid, which includes 12.5 million to fund U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, disaster relief activities, and $8.5 million to support Department of Defense logistics and transportation activities, according to a statement from USAID.

Last week, U.S. Northern Command sent USS Bataan (LHD-5) to the region. The amphibious assault ship has a 600-bed hospital on board and the ability to purify up to 200,000 gallons of water daily, was not specifically requested to help, Pentagon officials previously stated. The airlift capability deployed with Bataan was what was requested by the Bahamian government.

Four Marine Corps MV-22s from Bataan were used to transport Air Force personnel to the storm-damaged islands to assess the readiness of airports to resume operations. The Pentagon also sent 20 Navy and Army helicopters to assist with delivering supplies and personnel and evacuating residents, according to a media briefing last week.

Now, two weeks after the storm, the Pentagon has not received any news requests for assistance, a spokesperson told USNI News. USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), the Navy hospital ship, pulled into Grenada on Sunday as part of its summer deployment providing medical care to the Caribbean, Central and South America, according to the Navy.

Ben Werner

Ben Werner

Ben Werner is a staff writer for USNI News. He has worked as a freelance writer in Busan, South Korea, and as a staff writer covering education and publicly traded companies for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., Savannah Morning News in Savannah, Ga., and Baltimore Business Journal. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree from New York University.

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