USCG Medevacs Maersk Boxship Captain Off Puerto Rico

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Published Mar 25, 2020 1:51 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Monday night, a U.S. Coast Guard aircrew provided a medevac for the captain of the boxship Maersk Batam at a position about 100 nm to the south of Puerto Rico. The Maersk Batam's captain, a 57-year-old UK national, experienced life-threatening symptoms of a possible stroke during the ship’s transit from St. Marta, Colombia to Southhampton, England.

Coast Guard Sector San Juan watchstanders received a medevac request from the vessel at 0955 hours Monday as Maersk Batam was under way about 175 nm southwest of Mona Island, Puerto Rico. Coast Guard watchstanders launched a Coast Guard MH-65D helicopter crew from Air Station Borinquen to conduct the medevac. They also diverted the Coast Guard cutter Thetis to shorten the distance with Maersk Batam and serve as an emergency platform for the rescue helicopter if required. Watchstanders coordinated with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Virgin Islands authorities throughout the medevac. They also inquired and received from the Maersk Batam an assurance that the patient was not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. 

Once on scene, the helicopter deployed its rescue swimmer to the ship's deck to assess the patient’s condition, then used rescue litter to hoist the master aboard the aircraft.  Following the hoist, the patient was transported the Cyril E. King Airport in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, where he was received by emergency medical services personnel and taken to the island’s Royal Lester Schneider Regional Hospital.

"Last night I was really proud of our service - there were multiple units thinking creatively, willing to go the extra mile to get a fellow mariner to the appropriate medical care," said Lt. Cmdr. Charles Whitesel, Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin aircraft commander for the medevac. "The crew was amazing, each member performed exceptionally well during a challenging case."