Update: The status of the rescued aircrew has been updated in paragraph four as well as the efforts to extract the downed aircraft in paragraph five.
When the SAR alarm sounded last night at Coast Guard Air Station Barber’s Point, aircrews launched into action preparing for the search and rescue case – but this case was different. They were being called to rescue fellow Marine Corps servicemembers.
At around 7:20 p.m. local Hawaiian time, a Marine Corps CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopter sent a radio mayday just before executing an emergency landing approximately two miles off the coast of the Marine Corps Air Station in Kaneohe.
When the Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircraft and MH-65 Dolphin helicopter arrived on scene, they located the downed Sea Stallion helicopter and the crewmembers in the shallow water off Kaneohe Bay. Between the Honolulu Fire Department and Marine Corps HH‐53 helicopters also on scene, the Coast Guard MH-65 was the only one with hoist capabilities. The aircrew immediately deployed the swimmer, Petty Officer 2nd Class Colin Clyne, to help the Honolulu Fire Department divers rescue the four crew members from the aircraft.
All four crew members were evacuated and transported to the Marine Corps Air Station, for triage. According to a Marine Corps press release, one Marine has died, two are listed in critical condition and one in stable condition. The name of the crewmen are being held until next of kin are notified.
A 25-foot response boat from Station Honolulu was also sent via trailer to assist with the rescue and enforce a safety zone around the Sea Stallion. The Coast Guard continues to provide assistance to the Marine Corps and is enforcing a temporary safety zone around the wreckage to ensure the safe extraction of the downed helicopter. Marine Corps Base Hawaii Waterfront Operations deployed containment booms and is working to minimize any environmental impact. This incident is under investigation by the Marine Corps.
“It’s always difficult when you get a call to rescue fellow aviators and aircrew, especially fellow servicemen, but at the end of the day it is something that we in the Coast Guard train to do on a daily basis,” said Lt. j.g. Jason Gross, co-pilot of the rescue helicopter. “Our thoughts are with the families and friends of these Marines and I’m just happy that we were able to help.”