New York ANG pararescuemen aid seamen on stricken ship in Mid-Atlantic

  • Published
  • By Mr. Eric Durr
  • New York National Guard
Seven New York Air National Guard pararescuemen provided medical treatment for two injured crewmen on board a cargo ship in the mid-Atlantic April 25,after a five-hour flight and a night parachute jump into the sea.

Three crewmen aboard the Tamar, a 635-foot long bulk cargo freighter registered in the Marshall Islands were badly burned and one was killed April 24, when an explosion occurred in the ships forward storeroom early in the morning, according to the First Coast Guard District Rescue Coordination Center in Boston. The captain requested medical assistance.

The cause of the explosion is unknown.

The Coast Guard reached out to the Air Force because of the unique capabilities of the Air Force and Air Guard search and rescue wings.

Pararescuemen, whose primary mission is to rescue downed pilots, are trained in advanced emergency medical care as well as parachuting; scuba diving; and survival, evasion, resistance and escape.

The 106th Rescue Wing, which is based at Gabreski Air National Guard Base, New York, was given the mission of flying help to the Tamar, which was originally heading from Baltimore for Gibraltar but is now heading for the Azores.

The wing launched an HC-130P/N King search and rescue aircraft from the 102nd Rescue Squadron carrying eight aircrew, seven pararescuemen and a combat rescue officer from the 103nd RQS, and two aircraft maintainers, at 1:30 p.m.

The aircraft deployed seven pararescuemen and a rigid rescue boat into the Atlantic near the Tamar. The Airmen then boarded the boat, headed to the ship, and rendered aid to the injured seamen.

The first stick of pararescuemen was in the water at 7:50 p.m. EDT, and by 10 p.m. all seven were onboard and providing aid to the injured crewmen on the Tamar, according to 106th RQW operations officials.

Unfortunately an additional crewman died of his injuries before the guardsmen could reach the ship.

With the pararescuemen on board the Tamar, the aircraft recovered to St. John’s, Newfoundland, to conduct maintenance.

The Portuguese Coast Guard has now assumed responsibility for the rescue mission, since the U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for coordinating rescue operations within 1,300 miles of the U.S. coast.

The Portuguese are planning to hoist the survivors onboard a helicopter for transport to the hospital in Ponta Delagada, Azores, according to 106th RQW operations.

The Tamar is about 24 to 30 hours away from the range at which a Portuguese rescue helicopter can reach the ship, according to the 106th RQW.

“The 106th RQW is happy to support the Coast Guard in this rescue mission,” said Col. Nicholas Broccoli, the 106th RQW vice commander. “This is what we train for and our pararescuemen, pilots, crew members and the rest of our team are the best of the best.”