Airmen rescue hypothermic mariner after boat capsizes

  • Published
  • By David Bedard,
  • 176th Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - Alaska Air National Guard rescue personnel of the 176th Wing hoisted a hypothermic mariner to safety May 30 about 20 miles southwest of Kodiak Island.

The boating party was in a vessel that capsized, triggering an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon distress signal to the U.S. Coast Guard District 17 Rescue Coordination Center. Four survivors sought refuge in a life raft, but only three were equipped with dry suits. 

The Coast Guard requested helicopter support through the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. The 176th Wing search and rescue duty officer dispatched a 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk and a 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II, both with 212th Rescue Squadron Guardian Angel personnel recovery Airmen onboard.

Good Samaritans in the fishing vessel M/V Polar Star picked up the four survivors, and a Coast Guard HC-130J Super Hercules established communications with the fishing vessel and relayed updated coordinates to the AKRCC.

The Combat King refueled the HH-60 in the air to give it the range to cover the 370-plus miles from JBER to the fishing vessel.

Once on scene, the HH-60 hoisted the Guardian Angels to the fishing vessel. They assessed the hypothermic patient’s condition before hoisting him up into the helicopter and flying him to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.

Alaska Air National Guard Maj. Duane Griffith, AKRCC director of operations, stressed the importance of mariners having and registering an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon.

“The EPIRB automatically activated and provided rescuers precise coordinates for us to begin our search,” Griffith said. “Fortunately, Alaskans often take care of Alaskans in need, and Good Samaritans helped with a good outcome.”