Response boats and a cutter based in Miami dock at U.S. Coast Guard Station Islamorada.

Several U.S. Coast Guard response boats and a cutter from South Florida stations recently relocated to the U.S. Coast Guard Station Islamorada as part of hurricane protocols that are in place to protect Coast Guard assets in hurricane zones. 

In total, five 45-foot response boat mediums left stations from Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Lake Worth to Islamorada on Aug. 1 to evade Hurricane Isaias. Each boat brought along anywhere from three to four Coasties. In addition, the CGC Cutter Hudson made its way to the station to dodge the storm. 

Based in Miami, the Hudson maintains the aids to navigation in the Florida Keys. One important mission entrusted to the Coast Guard is the care and maintenance of maritime aids to navigation. Much like drivers need stoplights, street signs and universally accepted driving 

rules, boaters need equivalent nautical ‘rules of the road.’ The Coast Guard is responsible for ensuring this network of signs, symbols, buoys, markers, lighthouses and regulations is up to date and functioning properly so recreational and commercial boaters can safely navigate the maritime environment.

Scott Goss, commander of the Coast Guard Station Islamorada, said stations in Islamorada and Key West serve as good strategic locations for boats and cutters in the path of storms. With access to both coasts, they’re able to move to the east or west coast depending on where the storm is tracking. 

“If the forecast shows that it’ll hit the east coast, they can go and evade it on the west coast, and vice versa,” he said. 

The boats and the Hudson have since returned to their respective stations with Isaias long gone from the Florida coast. Goss said stations on the mainland and in the Keys work very close in situations of looming storms.

“They’re our brothers and sisters who have the same qualifying and training as we do,” he said. “We’re able to move our boats up there as they can down here. It’s plug-and-play and a standardized response to evade storms.”

An aerial view of U.S. Coast Guard Station Islamorada where several Coast Guard response boats and a cutter from Miami recently relocated to as part of hurricane protocols. They’ve since returned to their stations.
U.S. Coast Guard Station Islamorada welcomes response boats from South Florida stations and the CGC Carter Hudson from Miami. DAVID GROSS/Contributed

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