Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

MEDEVAC From Ohio-Class Boat In Pacific Northwest

A Submariner was evacuated off a Bangor-based Ohio-class submarine Tuesday night by a Coast Guard helicopter based on Oregon; here's some video of the transfer:

Some excerpts from the article:
The Navy contacted the Coast Guard at 5:50 p.m. to request help in transferring the crewman from the submarine to a hospital. Coast Guard Air Station Astoria, Ore., launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter. It arrived at 7:12 p.m. and hoisted the sailor by basket from the sail of the submarine.
“Great teamwork between the Navy and the Coast Guard got our sailor off safely and he’s doing well,” said Lt. Kellie Randall, spokeswoman for Bangor-based Submarine Group Nine.
She couldn’t say which submarine was involved, or what injury or illness caused the sailor to need care.
The sailor will be transferred to a local military hospital as soon as possible, she said.
Have you ever been part of a helicopter transfer from a submarine?

Bell-ringer 1806 01 Oct: Commenters are saying that the video at this story from KOMO-TV is better.


Anonymous EX ANAV/COB said...

Talk about an "E" ticket ride. The Mud Sailors did a damn fine job. Hope the Sailor is OK.

10/01/2009 10:18 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is the coolest thing I have ever seen done from a submarine. This goes into my training video file!

Well done USCG & [redacted] SSBN!! Good job CO & COB & crew!! Good job Pilot and Aircrew!!

10/01/2009 10:39 AM

Blogger chief torpedoman said...

I had a ride like that back in 1972 from an old Polaris boat only my ride was from a navy helocopter from a carrier and I had to use the horse collar instead of the basket.

Can't say exactly where I was but they took me to a navy base by a famous volcano.

First patrol. I knew my mom was dying of cancer and I expected her to be gone by the time I got back to Groton. Halfway through patrol, CO received a message to be at these coordinates at this time for a humanivac for me.

Imagine if he had missed that. Almost did. Guess we were at the wrong end of the box and the Skipper had to put on some turns to make it in time. Streaming the buoy at the time (do they still do that) and he wasn't sure how fast he could go with the buoy deployed.

Anyway we made it and yes it was an e ticket ride. I was a young TM3 and scared to death. The sling came down to us on the missle deck and I thought they were going to winch me up a few feet and then wing it for the horizon while reeling me in like a fish!

Fortunately these guys were very professional and they did not move until I was inside the aircraft and buckled up.

10/01/2009 10:54 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our sister crew helo'd off a guy with MRSA. We never had to do a Helo transfer.

Hope he is ok! Funny that he left wearing his underway shoes vice steel toes.

10/01/2009 10:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a CO, I did a number of these ops, many under extremely lousy conditions. I will say that in each and every case the CGers were without question, magnificent.

10/01/2009 11:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two weeks into a "mission vital to national security", while standing QMOW, I started having severe pain in my abdomen. ANAV relieves me and I go to see the doc. Doc says it's probably just ulcers, gives me some useless medicine, and tells me to get back on watch. How he could diagnose a healthy 19-year-old QM3 with ulcers is beyond me, but I suck it up and go back and relieve the ANAV. Another hour goes by and the pain is unbearable; I'm literally laying on the floor, in the fetal position, in the control room. ANAV relieves me again, this time he's clearly annoyed with me.

Back to the doc I go and he sticks with his ulcer diagnosis. Well, long story short, the doc lets me go like this for three days before figuring out that it is appendicitis. Once he realizes that his misdiagnosis has the real potential of killing me, he goes into panic-mode and informs the skipper that I need a medevac right now.

The story gets blurry after that due to the gallons of morphine that he injected me with over the next few days. I was told that there was confusion about where to take me for real medical treatment; there was talk of a small-boat transfer to an awaiting CVN, but the skipper decided to pull into an undisclosed port and offload me to an army medical blackhawk.

While in the blackhawk en route to the army hospital, I actually felt it when my appendix burst. The pain went away and in my morphine-induced stuper, I thought that was a good thing. Arrived at the hospital shortly thereafter, and the surgery was successful; I spent 3-weeks there for recovery, and then another month on the beach waiting for the boat to come off-station. ANAV, QM1, and I were the only ones with SCI-clearances and QMOW quals, so they ended up going port-starboard for the entire mission after I left.

10/01/2009 11:22 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was the messenger at the time we surfaced so got to go the the bridge as the lookout. Mid 70s Blue crew patrol from Holy Loch. Skipper was Fred K., object of the medivac was Joe U.

Although I didn't see them, and wouldn't have wanted to, we were told that the reason for the medivac was that Joe's balls had turned blue.

So I'm on the bridge when the Royal Navy Sea Stallion arrived. The pilot was 25 to 30 feet from me. After a couple of minutes on station he looked down at me. I gave him a salute. He gave me a nod. Then it hit me. The pilot was Prince Charles. I asked the skipper if he knew who the pilot was. He said that his radio instructions for the medivac included the ID of the pilot.

Never knew anyone before or after with a case of the blue balls.

This ain't no shit.......

10/01/2009 11:33 AM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

During my twenty plus years at sea, I was transferred by helo twice, both for 'social occasions.' Off of Vietnam, three of us were transferred off for a day on the carrier operating on Yankee station and some ASW exercise briefings. The only 'gulp' moment was when the crewman informed us that if they got called on an air rescue, we were coming and did we know how to shoot the installed machine gun. Fortunately no such rescue called and we transferred to the carrier without a problem. The trip back was equally uneventful. During those stops in the Vietnam combat zone we did daily helo transfers for various reasons, including an admiral visit to the sub. He was a WWII sub commander and had some fascinating sea stories for the enthralled wardroom. My second transfer was by the helo crew of a USCG Ice Breaker Cutter to go have lunch on the Cutter during an underice operaton. The Ice Breaker was analyizing the ice from above the same time we were taking data below. A P-3 was also taking arial photos. I assume some analyst but the data together to help profile ice from just an arial or surface picture.
As a CO I had to receive an ORSE board by helo transfer once and humivac a crewman twice. All done without incident.
I wonder of someone will post about ADM Bruce Demars (when he was senior member of ORSE board) unfortunate accident during a helo transfer. I only heard about it on the grapevine at the time.

10/01/2009 11:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

safety question/observation...

wouldn't it improve medevacs if non-ambulatorys patients were strapped in evac baskets designed both for sub hatch egress and helo lifts?
-just a thought for the future
Jim Gilchrest

10/01/2009 12:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was riding a MSC vessel on the Columbia River when an crewman on ERLL was medevac'ed by a Coast Guard HH-60. Word was he didn't make it; this coupled with an accident where someone tried to sneak aboard pierside caused the CG to order the ship to wait in Astoria for an investigating team.

This may have been easier for the ship's force than from a submarine, but the ship was a T-ACS with a lot masts for the helo to avoid.

Bar pilots are transported by helo sometimes, also. I didn't recognize the one used; it looked like a Dauphin without the enclosed tail rotor.


10/01/2009 1:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We used to show a video of a helo transfer during pre-deployment family nights. It gave the wives a sense of the risks involved if hubby had to come home early. For some reason we had far fewer HUMEVACS than others...

Wonder why they did this one off the sail instead of the missile deck? It was hard to judge sea conditions from the video but there weren't any waves over the missile deck during the video. In any event, it was safe and successful. Those USCG pilots and crews are true professionals.

10/01/2009 2:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The video on KOMO TV website is longer and better reflects the sea. Slow rollers off the STBD side. MANY breaking over the missile deck...

10/01/2009 2:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@11:33 anon: Likely a case of 'twisted testicle.' Don't know how that happens to someone, and don't want to...but it also happened to a guy on our SSN. Didn't end up in a MEDEVAC, but they guy was in some hopping up-'n-down serious pain for a while.

10/01/2009 3:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gone the other way...from helo to top of sail (too rough for main deck and unable to get too close to land...)of 637 class SSN. I was the direct ground from the helo to the bridge cage on at least two passes before finally getting down with enough slack to get out of the harness! That was in mid 70's. A few years later such rides were banned for personnel xfers to SSNs.

10/01/2009 3:05 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Wow, great job.

No medevac, but two experiences from the first back way back when.

Some SEALs on board for an exercise are to transfer off some info via a helo basket. There is supposedly a danger from static electricity so you have to hook the basket with a grounding rod/strap first. After several attempts the SEAL just grabbed it...he was fine but the OOD shit himself.

In bound to Australia the pilot came on board via helo. Lower, lower, lower, a little to the right, lower, a little to the right..BOOM! bounced off the side of the sail. Helo goes up, OOD grabs him, pilot detaches, shakes off the recent impact, which clearly rung his bell. "Gday!" CO shakes his head..."Aussies."

10/01/2009 3:52 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

had to watch it again...Coasties rock.

10/01/2009 3:55 PM

Blogger phw said...

Really awesome flying. Glad the sailor is ok.

10/01/2009 4:08 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

had to watch it again...Coasties rock.

Gotta agree...both their aircrews and ship drivers. Say what ya want, they got their shit together.

Being on a former DDS boat (642), I've done my share of helo transfers for a myriad of reasons. Last couple were from a 688, most recently in Norway. In the dark. Started out on deck then moved to the top of the sail. OOD couldnt talk to the Helo due to the noise. Nav is NAVSUP...I speak Pilot fluently so I got elected to be the pivot man in the CO-OOD-Helo Pilot circle-jerk. Big fun, but the Norwegians are on par with the USCG and we got it done. Doing it in the dark was cool for bragging rights (I guess), but I have no wish to repeat it.

10/01/2009 4:17 PM

Blogger phw said...

I am looking at the KOMO video, which is better quality than Joel's link. It looks like one of the aviators was on the sail as they were transferring the sailor. Do they transfer someone to the boat as a part of their procedures?

10/01/2009 4:22 PM

Anonymous STSC said...

On station we had a rider who had a major medical problem. Took us most of a week to get close enough to somewhere we could have a helo fly out to that didn't cause an incident.

The days leading up to the HUMEVAC the poor guy wasn't allowed to eat anything and was being fed via IV & could only take sips of water. Only allowed out of the rack to use the head. He looked like a zombie.

We got him off safely and headed back out. Message told us later that if we'd waited much longer he would have croaked. He made a full recovery though I never heard what had happened. Doc got a well deserved medal.

The guys coming back down from the sail (637 class)after the transfer said it was the most dangerous thing they'd done & didn't want to repeat it ever again.

10/01/2009 6:52 PM

Anonymous JoeMissile said...

I was on a boomer out of Guam in the 70's and was part of the transfer crew to help get a crewman off while on patrol, (parents in a serious car crash I think). Anyway we surfaced in millpond-still water with a heavy fog, and waited by the AMR 1 hatch and went topside when directed by the OOD. Once up topside there was a Sea Hawk (I think?) from some destroyer cruising in at 200 feet above deck. It went into a hover over our missile deck and lowered a guy in a wet suit, who then got the crewman's seabag aboard, and then the crewman, then got back aboard the copter off they went in the direction they came from.

We hustled back to the hatch, went below and secured the hatch and was getting our gear off (life jackets, safety harness, etc.) when the Captain came by. We all though "oh sh**, he doesn't like something!". Well he ended up congratulating us all for such a great job (?) said we were on the surface only 15 minutes and was super pleased about having such great conditions for a transfer while on patrol status. Just pleased as punch!

The thing that seemed odd to me though was no one verified who these people were that took our sailor! Just some guy in a wet suit jumps out of a helicopter and takes one of our crewman. Could'a been a Ruskie who intercepted the message, decoded it and painted a helicopter to look like a US Navy one and kidnapped him... (well, it COULD happen!).

10/01/2009 7:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is some great footage.

I have never been involved in a helo transfer.

A lot of sailors poke a lot of jabs at the shallow water sailors but I can speak from experience that I was never so happy to see the Coast Guard then when they came to pull my 18 foot Ox Boat off of the jetty at Gray’s Harbor in Washington. They came out and tried to throw a line over and missed. They shot a line over and after tying it off, they pulled me free on the second swell. The boat was totaled but it allowed us to investigate the cause of engine failure (moisture in the gas when we got it from MWR). The Coast Guard was a professional, no nonsense bunch and I tip my hat to them.

That Damn Good Looking Aganger From Iowa.

10/01/2009 9:27 PM

Anonymous ex-ET nuke said...

BZ to my local Coast Guard station! These guys have the 2nd busiest station in the US (behind CGAS Kodiak), as well as the rough water rescue boat course. The guys at Cape Disappointment training school only call off class when the weather is TOO GOOD.

10/01/2009 11:08 PM

Blogger bigsoxfan said...

Well, won't be pulling any female crewmembers off with a twisted testicle. One for the "skimmers"
By the way, Go Coast Guard.

10/01/2009 11:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seen one, did one, somewhere around Sasebo not quite two years ago. Oh' how I wish I could discuss it in open forum. All I can say is, God bless the Coast Guard for a speedy arrival in shitty weather...and yes, one of my first Shipmates is alive to one day tell the tale if OPSEC ever allows.

10/02/2009 12:34 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Coast Guard flies the HH-65 Dolphin helicopter that has a phenominal auto pilot. Im sure the coastie chopper jocks are good, but technology helps them shine. Nice job.

10/02/2009 7:03 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is the link for the better video:

you can see the waves over the missile deck.

10/02/2009 8:00 AM

Blogger tennvol said...

@stsc: Was that the one in '91? That one was a real bear.

10/02/2009 2:47 PM

Anonymous l-t said...

My last active duty stint was as NSSC Ops in Bangor, so I organized a couple of these. They're almost always done through the sail, even on boomers. In two years, I think we actually performed two, and had a helo airborne a couple more times.

I'm still surprised at the severe reluctance to do this by the sub community; the CG helo guys are fantastic, and it seems just as dangerous to me to drive a submarine all the way in to a place (usually in the fog, in restricted waters) and do a small boat transfer in the middle of the SJDF. Not to mention the boat they use to do BSPs up there is not quite seaworthy!

Regardless, we've done it a couple times in the last five years, and it's always a great thing to participate in. We have had a helo airborne in less than an hour outbound to pick the guy up after the decision was made. Making the arrangements for comms and rendezvous location usually takes longer than getting the coasties en route.

There are several places Bangor pulls medevac helos from: Coos Bay, Astoria, P.A. Most places fly the Dauphin, which is the most popular CG Helo, but its range is only about half of what the Blackhawk (Jay Hawk?) is, and it makes it almost useless for boomers since they have to fly all the way out to the Pacific to find the boat.

And don't forget, the CG is even more strapped for cash than the navy is: they are frequently making decisions about what mission requirements are allowed to be missed due to lack of funds.

10/03/2009 11:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing, thanks Joel for posting.

10/10/2009 10:17 PM

Blogger James said...

I did one a few years back (2005) off the coast of Oregon. We didn't actually transfer personel, rather they gave us newspapers and we gave them cookies. It was obviously a training event but it was on a boomer. The thing with boomers like this is that it is only under dire situations that they would transfer from the sail as opposed to the missile deck. Judging by the sea state, it was more than likely a factor.

10/18/2009 6:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took the ride in either '99 or 2000 when a TM3 (he was technically a MM3) got a rudder ram indicator through his forearm. I had the pleasure of playing security watch for his morphined butt.

10/24/2009 8:16 PM

Anonymous Davina said...

The writer is totally right, and there is no skepticism.

9/20/2012 6:40 AM


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