NATO SHIP ASSISTS IN MEDICAL EVACUATION OF FRENCH SAILOR
ALBORAN SEA – Sailors assigned to Detachment 1, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM-48), embarked on Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) flagship USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), assisted in the medical evacuation of a Sailor aboard French navy oil tanker FS Marne (A630), Friday.
The distress call came in at 3 p.m. Friday, and HSM-48 quickly coordinated a plan to pick up the ill Sailor and transport him to shore. Within 45 minutes of receiving the call, Leyte Gulf set flight quarters to launch HSM-48’s SH-60B Seahawk.
Marne, a Durance-class tanker, was unable to land the Seahawk on her flight deck; the only area available for evacuation was the ship’s forecastle, the forward part of the weather deck.
"There were a few complications, one of them being the non-standard approach we had to make on the forecastle of the ship,” said Lt. Rich Gillis, HSM-48 Pilot. "There were also some communication difficulties, due to the language barrier.”
Hovering 30 feet above the forecastle of the tanker, HSM-48 Naval Aircrewman (Tactical Helicopter) 2nd Class Andrew Long was lowered to the deck of the tanker to retrieve the Sailor, who was suffering from an extreme allergic reaction.
"Overall, I think our training and the exercises we have performed with SNMG2 over the past couple of months were more than adequate to prepare us,” said Gillis. "At the end of the day, this is exactly what we’re out here to do.”
The Sailor was hoisted into the helicopter and transported to Naval Station Rota where awaiting paramedics transported him to a local hospital.