Sea Story - Rescue of Marine Pilots

Discussion in 'Coast Guard Academy - USCGA' started by BR2011, Aug 14, 2011.

  1. BR2011

    BR2011 USAFA Cadet

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    I was recently part of a rescue of some downed F/A-18 pilots south of San Diego. Here is what happened from the point of view of CGC EDISTO:

    We got the call at around 1045 and made best speed to get to the last known position in about an hour and a half. As soon as we got to the beginning of our search we smelled fuel and saw some scattered debris. About 30 min later we started to hear a whistle and voices and soon came upon the first person. We realized that because of the state he was in bringing him aboard the cutter would not be a good option. We directed the on scene helo over to us to and they deployed the rescue swimmer to cut away his parachute and hoist him into the helo. Soon after a Navy ship on scene located the second guy and he was also hoisted up into the helo.

    We were very lucky to find these guys at night. I never really knew how hard it is to see things in the water, even as close as 50 yards away. We were definitely happy to help with the rescue, especially since they were fellow servicemen.

    For all the cadets and candidates: Doing something like this just once makes all the work you put into the Academy worth it. Whenever you feel bogged down by the day to day at the Academy just remember that at the end of the tunnel is the opportunity to be a part of things like this.
     
  2. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    Sounds like a well-executed recovery. Most news sources place the time in water at around 4 hours and the rescue not until around 0230. I assume they were not wearing wet suits and that the water temperature was around 65 degrees. That is a long time to spend in the water. Probably their outstanding physical conditioning allowed them to remain conscious and able to assist somewhat in their own rescue. However, I am sure they were taught to get away from their parachutes ASAP.

    You are absolutely correct about nighttime visibility over water. Did either of the pilots have ELTs, PRCs, strobes, or flares? After four hours, they were probably unable to manipulate their rescue devices but the ELT should have been self actuating upon ejection.

    Also, during over water ops out of San Diego, either the CG or Navy is required to maintain a helicopter SAR alert. Were they activated and, if so, when did they arrive on station?
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2011
  3. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    San Diego would be the same area the Navy dropped the ball on controlling the airspace when a Coast Guard C-130 and Marine cobra collided. SAR anywhere can be risky.

    I have no idea what Marine pilots wear in an F/A-18, but CG helo pilots would be in dry suits at a certain water temp (wasn't an airdale).

    Nice sea story though, good job!!!
     
  4. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    Navy requires wet/dry suits always below 50 degrees and from 50-60 degrees depending on the estimated time to rescue
     
  5. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    Sounds awesome BR!! Speaking of your cutter, how is the 110 working out? Would you recommend it for first tour to others?
     
  6. BR2011

    BR2011 USAFA Cadet

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    If they had any type of locator it wasn't working because our search pattern was only based on where the C-130 spotted the debris field. They also didn't have chem lights/strobes which we thought was odd. In fact, when the swimmer first entered the water he swam right past the first pilot and to a strobe we had thrown in the water. We had to direct him over the loud hailer. They did have whistles though which ultimately led us in the right direction.


    The 110' has been good so far. I haven't even been on board for 2 months so I can't definitively say whether it is a good or bad choice. I will say that the biggest positive is that I will get to do a lot of different things. I'm pretty close to getting my OOD qual right now and plan on moving on to EOW shortly thereafter. I'm also planning on qualifying as a mooring/anchor deck supervisor, small boat crane operator and even as a coxswain. My CO said he wants me to be a "Swiss Army Knife" and be able to fill any role should be need it. As far primary duty the plan is to have the Ensigns be the First Lieutenant (deck department head) for the first year and then take over as the Ops Boss the second year. There have definitely been growing pains in regards to giving me jobs without displacing the people already in place, but I think if they continue to do this it will be a smoother process each year.
     
  7. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Who is your CO?
     
  8. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    That's good to hear then. Sounds like they've found a way to make it work out pretty well on your cutter. I almost wonder if other 110 CO's are doing similar things, or if they're doing something completely different
     

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