Helicopter Squadron Rescues Families from Capsized Boat
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28 Detachment 2, embarked aboard multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), aided distressed mariners in the Gulf of Aden, Dec 7.
At approximately 8 a.m., Bataan received the report of a capsized dhow with people in the water more than 85 miles from the ship's location. Bataan and dock landing ship USS Mesa Verde (LSD 41) steamed toward the craft's location and HSC 28 deployed an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter with a search and rescue team.
Upon arriving on scene, the helicopter crew spotted 19 people in the water and three people on top the dhow, including women and children.
"Seeing the overturned vessel, I was exhilarated knowing that we could rescue the people in the water," said Lt. j.g. Matthew G. Heidt, helicopter co-pilot.
Search and rescue (SAR) swimmers, Naval Air Crewman 3rd Class Joshua Teague and Naval Air Crewman 3rd Class Ryan Rampi, entered the water for rescue operations. The swimmers gathered the people into a central location and assessed their medical condition.
"SAR is our mission, and we are ready to do it at a moments notice without delay, no matter the situation," said Teague. "I'm doing my job like many aircrewman did before me and the many to come after me."
All of the people appeared to be in good condition despite being in the water for several hours.
A fishing vessel close by also responded to assist in the rescue. Teague and Rampi helped the crew into the local vessel that took everyone to shore.
Before the swimmers were hoisted up, they conducted an in-water search of the area around the overturned vessel, tapping on the hull and calling out to ensure there were was no one trapped inside.
"As a crew chief on this type of mission, I assumed the responsibility of keeping our swimmers safe, and managing the operation from the back of the helicopter," said Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class (AW) Carlos Llongueras, helicopter crew chief. "These types of missions do not happen very often, and I'm grateful that we were in a position to make a difference. This opportunity really lets us put our years of training into action."
"You have to keep your mind on the mission and make sure you rescue everybody from the water," said Lt. Wesley A. Johnson, aircraft commander. "I'm glad that we could help. This is why I'm here."
Heidt said experience and extensive training are essential to the success of a mission.
"All the training we do for search and rescue pays off when we are called upon to execute it," said Heidt. "It was awesome knowing that even though every day isn't as exciting as today, we are always ready for whatever happens."
Bataan is the command ship of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
Article by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elijah Leinaar, USS Bataan Public Affairs