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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Rotorcraft Report: Coast Guard Helicopter Rescues Lost Kayakers in Alaska Sea

Public Service | SAR

U.S. Coast Guard/PO1 Sara FrancisAET2 Tito Sabangan and AST1 Chuck Ferrante scan the Gulf of Alaska for two kayakers during a search and rescue mission. Ferrante assisted the kayakers in the water.
A U.S. Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk teamed with a fishing vessel on a recent mission to rescue two lost kayakers that were discovered near Gore Point, around 40 miles southeast of Homer, Alaska. The kayakers were attempting to go from Seward to Homer and called for help after eight days at sea and in the face of deteriorating weather conditions.

The distress call of Albert Kachesky and Gadi Goldfarb, both of Israel, was heard and relayed to the USCG Command Center in Anchorage. While the helicopter was in flight, the crews of the fishing vessel Vigilant and Northern Mariner relayed that they were available to assist. While the rescuers were approaching, Kachesky and Goldfarb activated their 406 emergency beacon to help secure their position.

“Locating the kayakers was a bit of a challenge due to the low visibility and the search pattern’s close proximity to land, which made maneuvering a little restrictive,” said Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Tito Sabangan. Once they found them, Aviation Survival Technician 1st Class Chuck Ferrante dropped into the water and began to swim toward the kayakers, who chose to climb aboard the boat versus being hoisted into the helicopter. But getting them on the Vigilant proved to be tough due to high waves in the sea. “I believe putting them on the fishing vessel was harder than if we had hoisted them from the helicopter,” noted Ferrante. “After three attempts I decided I would give it one more try. I knew we could have hoisted them to the helicopter safely, but they would have had to leave their kayaks behind.” Sabangan added that despite the challenges of this rescue operation, “the H-60 helicopter once again proved that it is a very suitable search and rescue platform, due to its sensory packages.” —Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis

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