US Destroyer Provides Medical Aid, Coordinates Evacuation for Grimaldi RoRo

medical evacuation
Navy team dispatched to assist the crewmember aboard the car carrier (U.S. Navy Photo by RSSN Carson)

Published May 3, 2024 6:32 PM by The Maritime Executive


In a unique situation, the U.S. Navy recently provided medical assistance and coordinated the medical evacuation of a crewmember from a merchant ship sailing off the coast of North Carolina. The Navy determined it was closer to the vessel that was calling for assistance. The guided missile destroyer USS Stout provided assistance and made the arrangements with the U.S. Coast Guard for the evacuation of the injured crewmember from a Grimaldi Line RoRo.

The car carrier Grande Portogallo (12,600 dwt) departed Rhode Island on April 26 bound for Tuxpan, Mexico. Three days later, southbound off the coast of North Carolina, a crewmember suffered injuries from a hot fuel oil spill.

The Italian vessel made an urgent call to the U.S. Coast Guard requesting medical assistance for its injured crewmember. According to the U.S. Navy, the Stout happened to overhear the bride-to-bridge communications between the Grimaldi vessel and the U.S. Coast Guard Station North Carolina. Determining that they were in the vicinity, the Stout volunteered to provide assistance and broke off from its weeklong training exercise being led by the USS Harry S Truman aircraft carrier.

“The crew performed well as professionals, quickly transitioning from tactical training to real-life humanitarian assistance,” said Cmdr. Desmond Walker, commanding officer of USS Stout. “The coordination between our combat information center, bridge, small boat team, and the U.S. Coast Guard ensured the fastest response possible, given the type of emergency.”

The crew of the destroyer prepared a small boat team with medical personnel while the destroyer rushed to the aid of the car carrier. A five-member team deployed on a rigid inflatable boat and embarked on the Grande Portogallo to provide the needed medical care. 


USCG helicopter and medical team arriving the RIB just visible standing off to assist (Photo by Lt.j.g. Ian Tumulty/US Navy)


After assessing the medical situation, the team from the destroyed determined the crewmember required more extensive medical care. The Stout remained in contact with the U.S. Coast Guard Sector in North Carolina and coordinated as the Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter. The Coast Guard also dispatched a C-130 aircraft to monitor the situation.

The personnel from the Stout remained on scene until USCG arrived and coordinated the handover of patient care to the USCG, which then arranged the evacuation of the patient to shore via helicopter. The injured crewmember was transferred to a hospital for further evaluation and medical treatment.

Stout’s small boat crew headed back to the ship to resume CSG-8 Group Sail operations. The carrier group is currently in training after a period of maintenance and is scheduled to deploy again this summer.