Swift, Courage, Ericsson Crews Perform Rescues

August 2010

Back to Issue

SIU members recently were involved in three rescues at sea, and each of those episodes concluded with the safe retrieval of the people who had been in danger (13 in all).

On June 15, the MV Courage rescued a yacht racer who’d been forced to abandon his boat after several days of rough weather. Andy Lane had been en route from Plymouth, England, to Rhode Island but instead was picked up 600 miles south of Newfoundland.

Nearly a month later, the HSV 2 Swift, which carries both military and civilian personnel, saved seven Guatemalan special-forces sailors from their capsized vessel off the coast of Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. That event happened July 10.

Four days later, members of the SIU Government Services Division aboard the fleet replenishment oiler USNS John Ericsson rescued five Filipino fishermen from the South China Sea 10 miles off the coast of Subic Bay, Philippines. The fishermen’s boat had capsized in rough seas as Typhoon Conson passed over the island of Luzon.

Following are additional details of each rescue, in chronological order.

MV Courage
Lane was in a race (called the Jester Challenge) from England to the United States’ East Coast. He had been at sea for 24 days when the mast on his 21-foot sailboat not only broke but also put a hole in the craft, following a prolonged period of bad weather.

Lane managed to activate his personal locator beacon and asked for a rescue, reported Chief Mate Kyle Campeau.

“The guys did a superb job of readying themselves and our boarding area for whatever came our way, and the rescue went off without a hitch,” wrote Campeau, adding that the Courage (operated by Crowley for American Roll-On/Roll-Off Carrier) was contacted by the U.S. Coast Guard’s search and rescue office based in Norfolk, Va.

“At approximately 1900 Mr. Lane was spotted and the Courage was able to maneuver in order to make a suitable lee for a rescue,” Campeau recalled. “Though the swells were approximately four to five meters in height, Bosun Hermen Crisanto and Daymen Fethanegest Demoz and Dennis Marshall (and Chief Mate Campeau) were able to safely bring Mr. Lane aboard. Mr. Lane’s boat, the SV Amadeus, was unfortunately abandoned and left adrift with no mast and a damaged hull.”

Other Seafarers sailing aboard the Courage during the rescue included Shantaz Harper, Edward Ayres, James Foley, Malcolm Holmes, Lewis Coleman, Melvin Grayson, Joshua Zelinsky, Aleksey Vigovskiy, Rassan Silver-El and Dante Slack.

HSV 2 Swift
The vessel occupied by theGuatemalans capsized during a Guatemalan drug interdiction operation as it became entangled with a sinking semi-submersible drug boat.

Upon arrival at the scene, Swift mariners and military personnel transferred the Guatemalan sailors (who were suffering from exposure) aboard. The four personnel who were aboard the drug boat were transferred to a Guatemalan coast guard vessel.

The Swift crew “received a hero’s welcome from Brig. Gen. Juan Jose Ruiz Morales, chief of staff of national defense in Guatemala, and a receiving line of Guatemalan service members upon their return to Puerto Quetzal,” according to the U.S. Military Sealift Command (MSC).

Morales personally thanked the Swift crew for their aid in the rescue mission.

Operated by Sealift Inc., the Swift is currently deployed for Southern Partnership Station 2010, an operation of various specialty platforms to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility in the Caribbean and Central America.

SIU crew members aboard the Swift during the rescue included Andres Cruz, Leo Batiste, John Wahl, William Dukes, Damian Spedale, Richard Fugit, Musa Alhaj, Richard Jones, David Kelch and Pedro Castillo.

USNS Ericsson
The Ericsson had departed the port at Subic Bay July 13 to avoid the storm. One day later, AB Charles Wright spotted the fishermen at 1:10 p.m., clinging to their overturned boat and waving a yellow flag.

Just three minutes later, the Ericsson lowered its rigid hull inflatable boat, or RHIB, into the sea, and 10 minutes later all five fishermen were safely on deck, where a physician examined them.

“They were a bit shaken up because the seas were rough, but otherwise were in good health and happy to be on our ship,” said Tiffany Brockman, the Ericsson’s chief mate. “We gave them fresh clothing, new socks and boots, and a nice meal.”

A few hours after their rescue, the fishermen were ashore and handed over to the care of the Philippine Coast Guard.

The Ericcson has a crew of more than 90 CIVMARS. The government-owned ship provides underway replenishment of fuel to Navy combat ships and jet fuel for aircraft aboard aircraft carriers at sea.

Share |