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French Navy Frigate Aids Long-Distance Medevac for Injured Seafarer

agri queen
Courtesy Premar Atlantique

Published Apr 12, 2021 10:06 PM by The Maritime Executive

Last week, a French Navy helicopter crew conducted a long-distance medevac flight to rescue a seafarer from a bulker more than 250 nm southwest of the coast of Breton.

On Thursday afternoon, Premar Atlantique (France's maritime agency for the Atlantic region) received word that a crewmember aboard the bulk carrier Agri Queen had been injured after being struck by a wave. At about 2045 hours, the CROSS Etel rescue coordination center took command of the case, and after a medical consultation, its watchstanders ordered a helicopter medevac. 

CROSS Etel called on the air assets of the French Navy, including a Caiman helicopter out of the naval base at Lanvéoc-Poulmic, near Brest, and a Falcon 50 surveillance aircraft out of the Lann-Bihoué naval air base. The helicopter took aboard a specialized rescue medical team from the Finistère emergency services department, and the Falcon 50 provided comms relay and overwatch. 

After more than an hour of nighttime flight, the crew of the Caiman helicopter landed on the French Navy frigate Aquitaine to refuel for the long-distance mission. The Falcon 50 proceeded on to station over the cargo ship. Once refueled, the Caiman crew lifted off the frigate's fantail and proceeded to deliver the medical team to the deck of the Agri Queen, where they took charge of the injured sailor.

At 0245 hours on Friday morning, the injured sailor and the medical team were winched back aboard the helicopter. Less than two hours later, the victim was dropped off at the Cavale Blanche regional university hospital in Brest for treatment. 

Vice-Admiral Olivier Lebas, Maritime Prefect of the Atlantic, said that the medevac team should be congratulated for completing a challenging mission with complex factors - a long distance from shore, night operations, a refueling at sea and a successful hoist on the high seas. 

After the medevac, the Panama-flagged Agri Queen proceeded on her commercial voyage to Ghent, Belgium.