Sailors from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 51, Detachment 3 helped rescue the crew of a capsized catamaran off the coast of Guam last week.

The MH-60R helicopter’s crew, embarked on guided-missile destroyer Dewey, was flying during the destroyer’s surface warfare advanced tactical training when they received a distress call from the Coast Guard Sector Guam about four missing persons stranded in the open ocean on March 26.

The helicopter approached the area and identified the catamaran’s crew, who were on the phone communicating with Guam Fire and Rescue and were separated approximately 1.5 nautical miles from their catamaran. The helicopter crew then directed the rescue boat to the survivors’ location.

“You always have to be prepared for the worst case possible,” Naval Air Crewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Baldwin Switzer said in a Navy news release. “Luckily in this case it was a very straight forward search with the survivors being in contact with emergency personnel.”

“Once I had sight of all four of the survivors and saw that none of them were struggling to stay afloat, I was relieved,” Switzer said. “Next on my mind was getting the Guam Fire and Rescue boat to the survivors as quickly as possible.”

The helicopter crew received the distress call at approximately 1:18 p.m. local time, and the catamaran survivors were brought onto the Guam Fire and Rescue boat at approximately 1:43 p.m. – just 10 minutes after the helicopter crew identified them in the ocean.

“The key to our success was our outstanding crew resource management,” Lt. Kristopher Appel, the lead pilot of the MH-60R, said in a Navy news release. “I can’t express how proud I am of the professionalism and the efficiency my crew demonstrates when tasked with a high-stress mission change.”

Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 51, Detachment 3 and the Dewey are deployed with Destroyer Squadron 15 in the 7th Fleet area of operations.

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