Coast Guard, Navy medevac passenger from cruise ship off Big Island

The U.S. Coast Guard and Navy medevaced on Wednesday a 69-year-old man from the cruise ship Grand Princess as the ship sailed some 210 miles northwest of Hilo.

A Navy MH-60R Seahawk helicopter crew from the Kaneohe Bay-based Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37 (HSM-37) conducted the medevac while an Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules aircrew provided overhead support. The helicopter transferred the passenger to Hilo Medical Center for medical treatment.


His condition is unknown at this time, the Coast Guard said.

“The Coast Guard and the Navy often work together during search and rescue operations in the Pacific,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Craig Howarth, a Coast Guard Sector Honolulu watchstander. “Each case is different and depending on the situation the long range capabilities of the Navy Seahawk aircrews with our Hercules aircrews in support is the quickest means of getting a patient to the higher level of medical care.”

At 12:29 p.m., Sector Honolulu watchstanders received a report from the master of the Grand Princess reporting a passenger was suffering from abdominal distress. A duty flight surgeon was consulted and agreed with the ship’s medical staff and recommended the medical evacuation.

Because of the distance of the Grand Princess, Sector Honolulu watchstanders requested the assistance of HSM-37 who agreed to assist due to the Seahawk helicopters long-range capabilities.

The Grand Princess diverted toward the Big Island while the Seahawk and Hercules aircrews launched in response. Upon arriving on the scene, the Hercules aircrew provided cover overhead and communications while the Seahawk crew conducted the hoist.

The weather at the time of the rescue was winds of 25 mph and seas up to 10 feet.

The HSM-37 Easyriders are the largest expeditionary squadron in the Navy and support all Pearl Harbor-based Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and Ticonderoga-class cruisers with a focus on anti-submarine surface warfare. They maintain and fly 15 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters.

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