Buoy Tender Conducts Medevac 800 Miles off Oahu

JOHNSTON ISLAND, CENTRAL PACIFIC — Coast Guard members of cutter Kukui helped Dec. 5 and 6 on a medical evacuation of an injured fisherman aboard the Taiwanese fishing vessel Sheng Yi Tsai No. 166 about 800 miles southwest of Oahu.

At 4:30 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time Dec. 5, cutter Kukui was diverted by Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) Honolulu to intercept and rendezvous with the Sheng Yi Tsai No. 166.

A 33-year-old Indonesian crew member on the 93-foot long liner became ill Dec. 2 and his deteriorating condition prompted the vessel’s master to request medical assistance. Officials in Taiwan solicited help from JRCC Honolulu, operated by the U.S. Coast Guard’s Fourteenth District in Honolulu. Search and rescue controllers from Honolulu alerted Kukui and diverted the buoy tender to respond.

At 10 a.m. HST Dec. 6, the Kukui rendezvoused with the Sheng Yi Tsai No. 166 in heavy seas and poor visibility generated by the storm system currently affecting the Main Hawaiian Islands. The Kukui’s crew launched the cutter’s small boat and dispatched a medical assistance team. Once aboard the fishing vessel, despite a language barrier, Coast Guard Health Services Technician 1st Class Kenneth Davis appraised the victim’s symptoms and contacted medical officials in Hawaii for further guidance.

“It feels great to do what I was trained to do — to help someone in distress on the sea,” said Davis.

Based upon the victim’s condition, it was determined the Kukui would escort the Sheng Yi Tsai No. 166 200 miles north to Johnston Island, an uninhabited U.S. atoll once used by the Department of Defense. The Kukui is expected to arrive at Johnston Island on the morning of Dec. 8 and meet a Coast Guard C-130 aircraft from Air Station Barbers Point on Oahu. The C-130’s crew will medevac the victim to Honolulu.

The Kukui is a 225-foot buoy tender home ported in Honolulu. The Kukui and her crew of 50 have been on patrol since Oct. 22, conducting fisheries law enforcement and servicing aids to navigation throughout the South and Central Pacific Ocean.

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