When a lilliputian fishing boat ran aground Friday morning in shallow waters off the Hawaiian island of Niihau, the Navy sent one of its biggest behemoths to rescue it.
All 227 million pounds of the Nimitz-class supercarrier Carl Vinson heaved to help the five stranded mariners, but it didn’t have to go far — the distress call came to bridge watchstanders from only about 7 miles away — and the ship didn’t pull up to the beach.
Instead, the flattop launched a pair of MH-60S Seahawk helicopters from the “Black Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 4 to airlift four of the mariners to Coast Guard Station Kauai.
The fifth crew member was flown to an undisclosed local hospital for evaluation, according to a press release from the Vinson.
“We were ready,” said Capt. Matt Paradise, Carl Vinson’s commanding officer, in the release. “When nearby mariners needed assistance, we stepped up immediately and helped. That is what we are trained to do, and I’m proud of our team.”
The Vinson was nearby because it was participating in the large Rim of the Pacific exercise when the rescue call arrived.
To tackle potential pollution escaping from the grounded vessel, an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point joined a 45-foot Response Boat Medium crew from Kauai at the rescue site on Niihau, Hawaii’s westernmost inhabited island.
Coast Guard officials reported that the 34-foot vessel was partially submerged, but there didn’t seem to be wreck debris and no diesel fuel had leaked from its 410-gallon tank. The boat simply ran aground while sailing in five-feet seas, they added.
On Monday, Public Affairs Specialist 3rd Class Matthew West at the Coast Guard’s 14th District Headquarters in Honolulu told Navy Times that a private salvage contractor had been hired to carefully pull the vessel off the rocks.
On Sunday, the Coast Guard also rescued a boater from a 17-foot recreational craft that sank off the shores of Kauai, but West said the number of rescues actually aren’t on the rise in a sector that stretches from Hawaii to America Samoa, Saipan, Singapore, Japan and Guam.
The Navy’s Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 saved three divers who became separated from their boat off Guam on Thursday.
The “Island Knights” had been contacted by Coast Guard Sector Guam following reports that the divers had gone missing while spearfishing about 15 miles offshore.
The afternoon rescue mission led by HSC-25 Alert Search and Rescue Aircraft Commander Lt. Jessica O’Brien found the divers in the open water. They were hoisted to an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter and flown to Naval Hospital Guam, where they were reported to be in stable condition, according to Coast Guard and Navy officials.
“As the rescue swimmer on scene, I am thankful our crew was able to locate all three survivors quickly and prior to sunset,” said Naval Aircrewmen (Helicopter) 2nd Class Jacob Ward in a press release. “We train diligently for challenging scenarios and it is rewarding to see the results of that in lives saved.”
It was the 22nd emergency call to HSC-25 by the Coast Guard in 2018.
The same Navy squadron rescued a mariner in distress off a commercial vessel near Guam on July 15.