Teamwork helps injured mariner

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The Coast Guard and the Navy teamed up Dec. 13 to rescue a 42-year-old merchant sailor injured aboard the Liberian-registered cargo ship Marie Rickmers, according to a recent U.S. Navy press release.

Marie Rickmers was approximately 300 miles off the coast of Southern California when the Navy ship USS Abraham Lincoln received notification at 9 p.m. of the need for medevac from the Coast Guard. Lincoln was returning to Naval Station Everett, Wash., after completing squadron carrier qualifications off Southern California.

“We were told that the [cargo] ship had an injured sailor and was over 600 miles off the coast,” says Coast Guard Commander Sean Cross, the helicopter pilot who performed the medevac, in the report. “We didn’t think it would be able to happen because they were just too far away. Then we were told Lincoln was out there and we’d be able to use the ship.”

Lincoln positioned itself between the San Diego Coast Guard Station and the cargo ship to act as a landing point for the Coast Guard Jayhawk rescue helicopter to refuel and expedite the medevac, according to the report. The helicopter arrived at 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning to pick up a doctor and a hospital corpsman, and to refuel before reaching Marie Rickmers.

When the Coast Guard arrived at the cargo ship, it was able to hoist the injured man into the helicopter with the help of rescue swimmer Robyn Hamilton. The man was flown back to Lincoln and he was transferred to medical personnel on board, who determined the sailor to be in stable condition. He was flown to Monterey, Calif., for additional medical attention by a Coast Guard HH-65C Dolphin helicopter that was dispatched from Air Station San Francisco, according to the report.

This isn’t the first time the Coast Guard has gone the extra mile for a medevac. The Coast Guard flew more than 4,000 miles Nov. 19 to the tip of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska to assist a crewman aboard a bulk carrier.

— Elizabeth Ellis