Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Accident Aboard Bulk Tanker Once Again Demonstrates the Dangers to, and Bravery of, Those at Sea

Coordinated Long Range Rescue Mission Causes Serious Difficulties
Shipping News Feature

US – Working at sea remains a very hazardous business, as shown over the past few days when a crewman aboard the Hong Kong registered bulk tanker Ocean Applaud suffered a fall from thirty feet to the deck of the ship causing the man serious injuries.

Despite immediately contacting the Coast Guard the 63,000dwt, 200 metre long vessel was positioned 1,150 nautical miles north-west of San Francisco heading for the Port of Stockton with a cargo of wind turbines. The distance involved meant she was outside the range of the 11th District's rescue helicopters, so the master was instructed to turn toward the coast and await instructions.

The solution came in an offer of help from the 129th Rescue Wing of the California Air National Guard which summoned the services of one of its C-130 aircraft to take off for the ships position carrying a rescue team. Having located the vessel the team executed a static line jump alongside and boarded the ship.

Once aboard the trained crew provided emergency medical aid to stabilise the patient’s condition and stayed with him for the next few days until the vessel fell inside the range of two HH-60 helicopters assigned with the 55th Rescue Squadron, Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona,which took off to collect the casualty and the para rescue team.

Our photograph is a still from a video shot by Master Sergeant Ray Aquino (which can be viewed here) and shows the injured man finally on his way to hospital. The Ocean Applaud has subsequently arrived safely at Stockton and Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Klein, the Coast Guard Command Centre mission controller, commented:

“The response during this multi-day rescue operation highlights the value of strong coordination efforts with our Air National Guard, Navy and maritime industry partners. We greatly appreciate the outstanding support of the Air National Guard whose air crews and para rescue jumpers conducted the long-range response and medical treatment.”

Photo: An HH-60 landed at Moffett Air National Guarrd Base, California to complete the mission. (Courtesy Master Sgt. Ray Aquino)with (inset) the para rescue jumpers drop down into the sea beside the ship (courtesy of the 129th)