Combined Services Rescue Effort

081007-F-8095M-007.jpgA SH-60 Pave Hawk SAR/SOG helicopter refueling from a C-130 Hercules.

A rescue mission in the Atlantic that’s too far away for any land-based rescue helicopters to get to. Who do you call? The U.S. Air Force and the Royal Navy, of course. When a sailor aboard the large bulker Pascha was diagnosed with severe abdominal pains and an immediate airlift was called for,  the combined efforts of two nations was needed. A Nimrod handled the command and control, a KC-135 refueled a C-130, which in turn refueled a pair of SH-60 helicopters. So. Very. Cool. Well done by all hands.

From the Daily Express today:

A fleet of military aircraft was involved in plucking Roque Bergado, 34, from the deck of the 83,000-ton Pascha, which was more than 700 miles off the west coast of Ireland

The complex air-sea rescue, co-ordinated by a Nimrod based at RAF Kinloss, Morayshire, saw two US Air Force helicopters refuelled repeatedly during a 14-hour mission.

The Nimrod located the Greek-owned cargo vessel, which steamed more than 300 nautical miles in 24 hours after the mayday call was made. An onboard medic had ruled that Mr Bergado, who was suffering from agonising abdominal pains, had to be airlifted to hospital.

Despite closing the distance to the Republic of Ireland, the ship was still out of the range of the RAF’s Sea King helicopters and two long-range Pave Hawk craft from the US military were brought in.

The specialist aircraft, capable of air-to-air refuelling, were joined by a USAF KC-135 Strato air-tanker which filled the tanks of an American KC-130 Hercules, which in turn completed multiple refuels for the Pave Hawk helicopters. Mr Bergado was winched to safety at 2.15pm and flown to Shannon International Airport in Dublin before being transported by ambulance to Limerick General Hospital for treatment.

RAF spokesman Michael Mulford said: “It’s the third time in ten years that we’ve been involved in such a complex operation, and this one is right on the edge of what is possible.

“By the time the Pave Hawks get back to East Anglia they will have covered a lot of ground, they will have been in the air for around 13 or 14 hours.

“We are all absolutely delighted because so far this has taken well over 24 hours to get to this point.”

Colonel Jay Silveria, commander of the US Air Force’s 48th Fighter Wing, said: “We worked fast with our UK partners to get to this sailor to help in time.”

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