San Diego Military
A Coast Guard helicopter approaches the Air Station San Diego hangar in 2011. U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Los Angeles Baywatch boats rescued 19 migrants Saturday from a disabled vessel floating off the coast.

Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach received a call at 9:10 a.m. from a witness who reported the panga-style boat was in distress, Coast Guard officials said in a press release.

A helicopter rescue crew from Air Station San Diego in District 11 located the boat 18 miles west of Redondo Beach, Coast Guard officials said.

The crew of Baywatch Redondo helped the Coast Guard take the passengers from the boat to the USCG base in San Pedro, where agents from Customs and Border Protection were assigned to process them, according to the Coast Guard.

A USCG cutter, the Blackfin towed the disabled vessel to the San Pedro base where it will be seized by Air and Marine Operations, Coast Guard officials said.

Capt. Ryan Manning said the Coast Guard’s priority is to ensure the safety of those on vessels in distress, but then the agency has a role to play in “enforcing the nation’s immigration laws.”

“This case highlights the inherent risks posed to migrants attempting to enter the United States by sea and the dynamic nature of our operations,” said Manning, the commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach.

– City News Service


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Ellen Bullock