By Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet Public Affairs
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (April 19, 2018) – The Guam-based “Island Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25 responded to a mariner in distress aboard M/V APL Saipan on April 17.
U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam notified HSC-25 that the mariner aboard M/V APL Saipan sustained injuries from an explosion that occurred onboard the ship in the engine room.
The HSC-25 Alert Search and Rescue led by Aircraft Commander Lt. Gabriel Pogliano was on scene within 35 minutes of the initial call from U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam.
“When I received the medevac request with the patient’s condition, I knew time was of the essence,” said Pogliano. “My instinct was to get on scene as soon as possible to give the patient the best chance of survival.”
The crew was unable to land on the ship upon arriving due to its structure and quickly found an area to lower their SAR Medical Technician, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Richard Derrick to assess the patient and provide immediate care.
“The ability to get him safely aboard the ship is a testament to the skill of our hoist operator, [Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 1st Class] William Medlin, and my copilot Lt. j.g. Luke Stanley.” said Pogliano.
The rough sea state, winds and a high hover requirement made it unsafe to hoist a rescue litter to the aircraft. The SAR crew decided to leave Derrick on the Saipan to provide care until the ship could return to Guam.
“The moment I made it on deck my primary focus was the care and safety of the mariner,” said Derrick. “Given the confidence of my training and access to medical care within ship’s company, I felt it was best suited to stay onboard until the ship could port in Guam.”
The incident was the 10th emergency call to HSC-25 by U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam in 2019 to date, and the 5th call in the last 4 weeks.
“The last month has been extremely active with medevac and rescue requests from the U.S. Coast Guard,” said HSC-25 Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Frank Loforti. “The Island Knights are honored to have the opportunity to make a difference. I would also be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to thank the team. We have the finest Sailors in the fleet and the credit goes to them for making sure our aircraft are always ready.”
HSC-25 provides a multi-mission rotary wing capability for units in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations and maintains a Guam-based 24-hour search and rescue and medical evacuation capability, directly supporting U.S. Coast Guard and Joint Region Marianas. HSC-25 is the Navy’s only forward-deployed MH-60S expeditionary squadron.