Kearsarge ESG Conducts Rescue at Sea During COMPTUEX

Thursday, May 24, 2007
From Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Santos Huante, USS Kearsarge Public Affairs

Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group (KSGESG) assisted in the rescue of three mariners aboard a sailboat in distress May 18. The crew of the 48-foot S/V (sailing vessel) Sea Fever, ages 90, 81 and 50 respectively, were rescued 40 miles off the coast of North Carolina as a result of the combined efforts of amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22 Detachment 1, and Coast Guard Station Fort Macon.

When the began taking on water, the Sea Fever crew sent a 'mayday' message reporting they were taking on water. Although they had three pumps energized, they were not able to keep up with the flooding and were going down. U.S. Coast Guard Sector North Carolina responded to the mayday, and sent a request for assistance in their search for the stranded vessel.

Kearsarge answered the call and deployed the search and rescue team of the HSC-22 Sea Knights. “We were on the Kearsarge to refuel when we got the call,” said Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 1st Class(AW) Henry Cuthbertson, crew chief of HSC–22, Detachment 1. Cuthbertson said he and his crew from “Crusader 13” were in the air within five minutes of receiving the request and spent the next 10 minutes searching for the distressed boat.

“We were there to provide aerial search and rescue in case they needed to abandon ship,” said Lt.j.g Nicholas Burkle, Helicopter 2nd Pilot, HSC 22, Det. 1. “After spotting the sailboat and its crew, the SAR team descended 500 feet to 300 feet and held a steady 60 knots above the boat.” The SAR team acted as a visual beacon for the Coast Guard as well as providing longitude and latitude coordinates. “We train for this and it feels good to use it for someone under distress,” said Cuthbertson. Capt. William D. Lee, Commander, U.S. Coast Guard Sector North Carolina, was greatful for the KSGESG effort.

In a message, dated May 19, Lee wrote, “Please extend my appreciation to your crew for their efforts of Friday, May 18, 2007, which resulted in three saved lives. Based on the ages of the [people] on board, it is safe to say that your efforts were instrumental in the saving of three lives. From start to finish, ‘All Hands’ aboard Kearsarge eagerly answered the call of distress and pitched in to support a search and rescue effort.” KSGESG is currently participating in a Composite Training Unit Exercise in preparation for an upcoming regularly scheduled deployment. The KSGESG consists of the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge, elements of the 22nd MEU, based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., the amphibious transport dock ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), the dock landing ship USS Ponce (LPD 15), the guided missile frigate USS Carr (FFG 52), the guided missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78), the guided missile cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69), and the nuclear fast-attack submarine USS Miami (SSN 755).

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