SANTA RITA, Guam — In a display of exceptional interagency cooperation, a commercial mariner in urgent need of medical care was safely evacuated to Guam on Feb. 9, 2024, thanks to the swift actions of the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy's Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 (HSC-25).
"This successful medical evacuation underscores the strong partnership between the U.S. Coast Guard, HSC-25, and Guam Fire Rescue. Our commitment to the safety of mariners in distress is unwavering, and today's mission exemplifies that dedication," said Cmdr. Greg Sickels, deputy commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam (CGFMSG), highlighting the seamless collaboration.
Responders initiated the operation after a 37-year-old Filipino mariner aboard the 1,202-foot Germany-flagged container ship Antwerpen Express, located 50 miles off Saipan, exhibited symptoms indicative of a stroke. The U.S. Coast Guard's Joint Rescue Sub-Center in Guam was alerted on the evening of Feb. 6 when the vessel was approximately 550 nautical miles northeast of Saipan. Following a recommendation from the duty flight surgeon for a medical evacuation, HSC-25 mobilized to assist.
An MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter crew from HSC-25 reached the Antwerpen Express on the morning of Feb. 9. The mariner was then airlifted from the ship in 7-foot seas and winds of 16 mph, and delivered to the capable hands of emergency medical responders from Guam Fire Rescue at Naval Hospital Guam. They further transported him to Guam Memorial Hospital in stable condition.
"HSC-25 conducts more medical evacuations and search and rescue missions than any other Navy helicopter unit. We take great pride in our ability to support the people of Guam and mariners navigating these waters. Today's operation is a testament to our team's dedication and expertise," said Cmdr. Neil Toohey, commanding officer of HSC-25, reflecting on the squadron's critical role in the region.
The successful medical evacuation follows closely after a rescue operation by Guam Fire and HSC-25, who saved an injured hiker at San Carlos Falls on Feb. 3, demonstrating the collective commitment to saving lives, the local community, and mariner safety.
About U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam
The U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam team focuses on maritime safety, security, and stewardship in Oceania. With a primary presence in Guam and Saipan and around 300 members across Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the team maintains a strong U.S. presence in the Micronesia sub-region and adjacent areas, closely tied to local communities.
About U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25
U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25, known as the "Island Knights," is a critical MH-60S Knighthawk expeditionary helicopter squadron based at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. As the island's sole permanently stationed naval aviation and rotary wing asset, HSC-25 is vital in supporting the U.S. 7th Fleet. The squadron provides combat-ready crews and aircraft for various operations, including combat logistics, search and rescue, and humanitarian assistance.