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Cubans Release Ship Carrying N. Zealand America’s Cup Boat

Associated Press

Cuban officials escorted a seized U.S. merchant ship carrying New Zealand’s America’s Cup racing yacht into international waters today, where the vessel reportedly resumed its trip to New York.

Coast Guard Lt. Jeff Karonis said the Tampa Sea Horse left the Cuban port of Puerto Cayo Moa before noon and the Cuban pilots left it after 20 minutes.

“They said they were seized, the vessel was inspected and their passports were checked,” Karonis said after the Coast Guard talked to the ship by radio. “The Cubans claimed their vessel was nine miles offshore,” Karonis said, quoting the crew. Cuba claims a 12-mile territorial limit.

He said the Tampa Sea Horse was believed continuing to New York. “We have not been asked to meet them.”

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Earlier today, a press aide to Sen. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. (R-Conn.) said he had been told by the Cuban diplomatic mission in Washington that the eight Americans and one New Zealander aboard were “safe and well.”

The spokesman for the Cuban mission was not available to answer questions about the incident, which began Tuesday afternoon when the Cubans seized the ship after it allegedly entered Cuban territorial waters.

The ship was detained Tuesday in Cuba, said Coast Guard spokesman Dan Vogeley in Miami. The disassembled sloop New Zealand was aboard the 160-foot U.S.-registered merchant ship, officials said.

The 133-foot yacht was en route from San Diego to New York City for a tour of East Coast cities.

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The Cubans seized the vessel off the southeastern tip of Cuba without firing shots or using force, saying it had violated the communist country’s 12-mile territorial limit, the Coast Guard said.


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