HONOLULU — The Coast Guard, working with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (U.S. FWS) and the Hawaii Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT), medically evacuated a 32-year-old Latvian crewmember of a Norwegian-flagged tank vessel from Midway Island, late Sunday.
“This case illustrates the value and importance of our partnerships with the refuge and DMAT,” said Lt. Diane French, a command duty officer with Joint Regional Command Center Honolulu. “Connecting mariners transiting the vast Pacific with a higher level of medical care is vital to the safety of life at sea and one of our key missions.”
A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircrew from Air Station Barbers Point arrived at Midway, embarked the crewmember, and transported him safely to Oahu for further medical transport to Queens Medical Center.
Friday night, JRCC Honolulu watchstanders received a call from Rescue Coordination Center Stavanger, in Norway, reporting the mariner was experiencing a medical emergency aboard the 610-foot Motor Tanker Leikanger.
The vessel was 667 miles north of Midway at the time of the original call. The duty flight surgeon recommended the vessel crew make best speed to Midway Island to deliver the crewmember for further transport by the Hercules crew with DMAT providing in-flight medical care to Honolulu. The crewmember was reportedly suffering from severe pain and numbness in his lower abdomen.
JRCC Honolulu watchstanders also contacted the U.S. FWS Midway refuge manager to coordinate a transfer. Due to the high volume of birds in the area, particularly albatross, it is necessary to land planes on Midway at night to limit the chance of bird strikes.
Watchstanders placed the vessel in a 12-hour communications schedule. At 5:50 p.m., the tanker arrived offshore of Midway and transferred the crewman by small boat transfer. The refuge manager provided local knowledge and recommended that due to the risks involved with the sea state outside of the reef, the best option was for the vessel crew to launch their rescue boat and the U.S. FWS small boat escort them to the pier inside the reef. Following the transfer, the Leikanger crew resumed their voyage, transporting gasoline.
The Hercules crew arrived just before 11 p.m. and took the man aboard. They arrived safely to awaiting emergency medical services at Air Station Barbers Point at 2:45 a.m. Monday.
JRCC Honolulu is located at the Coast Guard 14th District and has responsibility for search and rescue across 12.2 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean to include the main Hawaiian Islands, Guam, Saipan, and American Samoa extending out in all directions.