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NEWS | March 4, 2024

U.S. Coast Guard, Navy Helicopter Squadron execute critical medical evacuation of Filipino mariner northwest of Guam

By Chief Warrant Officer Sara Muir, U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam

In a display of interagency cooperation, a commercial mariner in urgent need of medical care was safely evacuated from his vessel 100 nautical miles offshore to Guam on March 2, 2024, thanks to the actions of the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy's Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 (HSC-25).

"Our collective efforts today, closely following another recent rescue, underscore our enduring commitment to mariner safety. The partnership between the U.S. Coast Guard, HSC-25, and local agencies like Guam Fire Rescue is pivotal in ensuring the well-being of those at sea," said Cmdr. Ryan Crose, the case's search and rescue mission coordinator at U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam. "Search and rescue is a priority mission for us, covering an expansive Search and Rescue Region of 1.9 million square miles. The only way to effectively cover such a vast area is through robust partnerships."

Responders initiated the operation after a 26-year-old Filipino mariner aboard the 850-foot Liberian-flagged container ship Carmell 1, initially located 400 nautical miles northwest of Guam, exhibited severe abdominal issues. The U.S. Coast Guard's Joint Rescue Sub-Center in Guam was alerted on the afternoon of March 1 while the ship was en route to Vietnam. HSC-25 mobilized to assist following a recommendation for medical evacuation from the U.S. Coast Guard's duty flight surgeon in Alameda, California, and concurrence from HSC-25's flight surgeon in Guam.

An MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter crew from HSC-25 reached the Carmell 1 on the morning of March 2. The mariner was then airlifted from the ship in 17 mph winds and 10-foot seas and delivered to the capable hands of emergency medical responders from Guam Fire Rescue at Naval Hospital Guam. They further transported him to Guam Memorial Hospital, where he was in stable condition.

"The frequency of these medical evacuations and search and rescue missions reiterates the unique capability and readiness of HSC-25. We are the sole maritime hoist-capable emergency aviation resource in this area, and our team's proficiency and commitment were once again proven today. It's our honor to serve the people of Guam and ensure the safety of mariners in these waters," said Cmdr. Neil Toohey, commanding officer of HSC-25.

The successful medical evacuation follows closely after a similar rescue operation on Feb. 9, where responders ensured a 37-year-old Filipino mariner aboard the 1,202-foot German-flagged container ship Antwerpen Express safely reached a higher level of medical care after exhibiting symptoms indicative of a stroke.


About U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam

The U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam team focuses on maritime safety, security, and stewardship in Oceania. With a primary presence in Guam and Saipan and around 300 members across Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the team maintains a strong U.S. presence in the Micronesia sub-region and adjacent areas, closely tied to local communities.

About U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25

U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25, known as the "Island Knights," is a critical MH-60S Knighthawk expeditionary helicopter squadron based at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. As the island's sole permanently stationed naval aviation and rotary wing asset, HSC-25 is vital in supporting the U.S. 7th Fleet. The squadron provides combat-ready crews and aircraft for various operations, including combat logistics, search and rescue, and humanitarian assistance.