Flashback: The Tamar Rescue Mission

By The Maritime Executive 09-22-2018 06:58:22

New York Air National Guard Airmen from the 103rd Rescue Squadron jumped from an HC-130 search and rescue plane of the 102nd Rescue Squadron 1,300 miles east into the North Atlantic on April 24, 2017 to aid two badly burned crewman on board the Slovenian-owned ship the Tamar.

The incident on board the Tamar began early in the morning of April 24 when an explosion in a storeroom on the ship, which was built in 2010, killed one seaman and badly injured three. 

The Tamar, which was transiting to Gibraltar from Baltimore, Maryland, contacted the First Coast Guard District Rescue Coordination Center in Boston and requested medical assistance. 

The Coast Guard reached out to the Air Force because of the unique capabilities of the Air Force and Air Guard search and rescue wings. Pararescuemen are trained in advanced emergency medical care. The 106th Rescue Wing was given the mission of flying help to the Tamar.

The wing launched an HC-130 search and rescue aircraft from the 102nd Rescue Squadron carrying eight aircrew, six pararescuemen and a combat rescue officer from the 103nd Rescue Squadron, and two aircraft maintainers, at 1:30 p.m.

Five hours later the aircraft deployed seven pararescuemen and a rigid rescue boat into the Atlantic near the Tamar in the dark of night. The Airmen then boarded the boat, headed to the ship, and rendered aid to the injured seamen.

The first pararescuemen were in the water at 7:50 p.m. Eastern Time, and by 9:30 p.m. all seven were on board and providing aid to the injured crewmen on the Tamar.

One crewman died of his injuries before the Air Guard members could reach the ship. The other two men were burned over 50 percent of their bodies and required extensive medical treatment. It took 24 hours for the Tamar to get within range of a Portuguese helicopter which recovered the injured crewmen.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.