US military conducts multi-day rescue at sea off Kenya


Members from the US military’s Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa Personnel Recovery Task Force and US Africa Command contract Personnel Recovery have conducted a complex, multi-day rescue at sea of a UK civilian mariner in distress.

“This mission is exactly why we always train. It demonstrated how the Warfighter Recovery Network can come together and save a life in the most remote places, when needed most,” said US Air Force Master Sergeant Trevor Clark, 82nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron pararescueman.

Members of the WRN received an urgent request for a mariner experiencing symptoms of a heart attack aboard the US flagged cargo ship Liberty Grace located in the Indian Ocean, approximately 500 nautical miles east of Kenya.

“While this mission presented unique circumstances, we adapted to what was given,” said Clark.

The PRTF deployed a team of five US Air Force Pararescuemen aboard MV-22B Ospreys to rappel aboard the ship and stabilize the patient. Due to the vessel’s distance from shore, a US Marine Corps KC-130 tanker deployed to provide aerial refuelling of the Osprey’s.

PJs remained onboard overnight as the vessel maneuvered within 150 nautical miles of Manda Bay Airfield in Kenya. The following morning two WRN contracted Super Puma aircraft provided transportation to Manda Bay Airfield.

“We then transferred the patient to a DHC-8 airplane, which enabled our final turnover to a medical facility in Nairobi that provided the appropriate level of care,” said Clark. “The patient is doing well and I am so proud of my team for their part.”

“The efficacy of this weekend’s technical rescue operation [which took place between 13 and 14 November] demonstrated exactly how Joint Military and Contract Personnel Recovery capabilities are combined through the WRN into an integrated life-saving rescue network that supports both US and partner nation personnel,” said Stuart Bothwell, US Africa Command contract personnel recovery programme manager.

“The rescue mission over the weekend demonstrated the effectiveness of the personnel recovery and casualty evacuation architecture of the Warfighter Recovery Network. Recent improvements made to the Warfighter Recovery Network, in partnership with the Department of Defence and Congress, enable US Africa Command to provide timely casualty evacuation and medical care to personnel through military and contract air, medical, rescue assets,” said US Major General Gregory Anderson, US Africa Command director of operations.

“The tyranny of distance in Africa cannot be overstated, especially during life-threatening MEDEVAC situations. While the primary mission of Warfighter Recover Network is to rescue our military personnel during operations in Africa its robustness allows for unique missions like this. We are all grateful for the pilots, crews, medics, and rescue professionals and the courage they demonstrate to help anyone under duress.”

US Africa Command’s Warfighter Recovery Network has made numerous improvements over the past two years including increased air capacity, multi-ship point-of-incidence response, and additional medical and surgical capabilities that enable the recovery and treatment of isolated and injured personnel across vast distances, Africa Command said.

“The mission of rescuing injured personnel in the US Africa Command area of operations is exceptionally complex due to the geographically wide distribution of forces and dynamic security environment found throughout much of Africa,” Africom noted.