AFR Capabilities Enable Immediate Rescue at Sea > Air Force Reserve Command > News Article



The Air Force Reserve Command’s 920th Rescue Wing conducted a multi-person medical airlift in support of seriously injured person aboard cruise ship 600 nautical miles off Florida Feb. 15.


The 920th RQW launched two of its HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, two HC-130J Combat King II aircraft, and a pararescuemen team within three hours of notification to rendezvous with the ship and transport a patient and ships nurse at a Florida hospital.


“The combined capabilities of our special mission personnel and our aircraft enabled us to provide immediate support. Our constant planning and preparation enabled the operations and maintenance teams to quickly move from a normal training day to successfully completing this mission with very little notice,said Col. Brian Diehl, commander of the 920th Operations Group.


In contact with the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., the team executed the airlift as part of Defense Support of Civil Authorities. DSCA is the process by which United States military assets and personnel may be used for assist civil authorities during emergencies and other specific events.


reach the ships remote location required three mid-air refuelings, provided by an HC-130Jwhile the second Combat King II performed double duty as a reserve tanker and went straight to the ship to launch co-ordination from the air.


Once there, and under the command of the 920th RQW 301st Rescue Squadron, HH-60s took control, surveyed the ship and conditions to successfully position themselves from the air, insert two para-rescuers who were taken downand immediately began to prepare the critically ill patient and ships nurse for emergency transport. Once preparePCs, pilots, and special mission airmen worked together to hoist them into the helicopter, where the patient was stabilized en route to a Florida hospital.


The entire extraction took less than four minutes.


“Hhigh seas, high winds and a ship going at 10 knots added a lot of momentum to this rescue as we worked to get these people onto the plane, but that’s what we’re training for. When they say there is a real rescue to be performed, our goal is to save lives,said a pilot from the 301st RQS.


The 920th Maintenance Group generated six aircraft and ensured they were ready for the crew in less than an hour. This feat required inspecting, refueling, and configuring the aircraft for the mission while performing other aircraft maintenance requirements.


“Mlike our wing drills which simulate the Indo-Pacific region’s journey over long water distances in a short period of time period of timeour training and preparation allows us to ensure aircraft are ready for real-world events at a moments advises and demonstrates the importance of getting aircraft back on the flight line 100% prepared for any eventuality at all times,said Lt. Col. George Cole, commander of the 920th Maintenance Group.


The rescue mission covered just under 1,100 miles round trip on the high seas and was completed in eight hours.


Based at Patrick Space Force Base, Fla., the 920th Rescue Wing is the Air Force Reserve Ordered single combat search and rescue wing. Its primary mission is to plan, direct and conduct military rescue operations and missions to prevent competitors and opponents exploitation of isolated personnel.