Things may have ended very differently, had it not been for an enhanced Navy Helicopter rescue operations in Hawaii. Roughly 150 miles offshore in Kaneohe, the cruise ship Emerald Princess was enjoying peak mid-morning climatic conditions. Minutes later, a rescue attempt by helicopter was well underway.
At that time, an unidentified Canadian passenger aboard the cruise ship, 83 years in age, began to claim he was experiencing symptoms consistent with severe strokes. Given the cruise ship’s relative location to the shore, and the impending urgency for immediate on-shore medical attention, a Navy Helicopter was urgently dispatched.
Coast Guard video footage captured the entire incident in uninterrupted video footage. The details account for the rotorcraft hovering above one of the pool decks aboard the cruise ship, before then departing for on-shore medical facilities. The sheer distance between the helicopter and the deck itself witnesses to the accuracy by which the pilot operated.
That helicopter was shortly identified as a member of the local Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37, a representative of a naval and reconnaissance division repurposed for a lifesaving effort on the fly. The chopper itself, a Naval-class MH-60R, was responsible for the expedited rescue operation.
Shortly, from the deck of the 951-foot cruise ship located just outside of Kaneohe Bay, the elderly passenger was safely rescued and diverted toward Hawaiian medical authorities. The Coast Guard, upon receiving the initial call, outsourced the helicopter rescue to nearby Naval authorities capable of streamlining the request.
Without landing, the helicopter elected instead to lower a member of the crew onto the deck of the Emerald Princess itself, after which point the ailing Canadian passenger was secured via cable hoist, and airlifted to the nearby Queen’s Medical Center. A local Coast Guard station was responsible for ongoing communication between ground and air.
Known in the Navy as the “Easyriders,” this division of rotorcraft remains the largest Navy squadron reserved for expeditionary enterprises, and currently maintains 15 MH-60R helicopters, according to independent Naval sources.
Petty Officer First Class James Fangman, at the time an acting command duty officer heavily involved with the ongoing rescue procedure, identified streamlined movement as key. After consultation with the duty flight surgeon it was determined expediency was vital’ he said in an official statement from the Coast Guard to local news sources during a press release. “In this case, we were able to call on HSM-37 to conduct the rescue” he continued.
Fangman also cited the involvement of the MH-60R fleet as pivotal for the rescue‘s details, from the Emerald Princess to the hospital, and identified the helicopter’s metrics as the main reason for success. The MH-60R series “has a greater range than our helicopter allowing for a faster transfer to a higher level of medical care” he said. The transfer between Coast Guard and Navy sources, he said, is part of a larger partnership between branches that “is vital to those on the water in this region.”
Collectively functioning to protect those on land and those at sea in coastal locations, the Coast guard and Navy partnered to secure the life of a Canadian passenger aboard the Emerald Princess. Thanks to their awareness, compounded by the authority of the provided MH-60R chopper, the endeavor itself was a success, and the passenger was left in good health with a story worth telling.