Video: Boat Crew Falls Overboard During Retrieval Aboard USNS Comfort

USNS Comfort off Jeremie, Haiti (USN)

Published Dec 15, 2022 4:07 PM by The Maritime Executive

A crewmember aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort has posted video footage of the boat recovery accident that dumped 19 people into the water at an anchorage off Haiti on Monday. 

USNS Comfort arrived off Jeremie, Haiiti on Sunday for the final stop of a medical-assistance tour. The ship's medical crew was scheduled to provide care to local residents on the wharf throughout the week.

On Monday evening, during a tendering transfer to bring medical personnel back to the ship, the crew attempted to retrieve the boat and its occupants using the ship's crane. In calm conditions, the boat's passengers would normally transfer to a boarding ladder, but heavy swells prompted a change of plan.

The first video appears to show that the boat was rigged with two fiber round slings fastened fore and aft, close to the boat's centerline. There is no apparent rigging oriented athwartships.

When the boat was nearly up to the height of the ship's top deck, about 6-8 of the occupants shifted from their seats on the starboard side over to the boat's port side. Moments later, the boat tipped to port, releasing 19 of the occupants into the water. All were recovered with the assistance of a nearby Coast Guard cutter, and two injured sailors were treated aboard the ship. 

A second video taken from a position forward of the boat's bow shows the crew tumbling into the water.