Coast Guard aircrew wins at Canadian rescue exercise

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka crew won the marine rescue event in this year’s Royal Canadian Forces annual search and rescue exercise which was held in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, Sept. 20-24.

The crew, which consisted of a pilot, co-pilot, three flight mechanics and two rescue swimmers arrived Sept. 22 in time to participate in the marine rescue event.

The event required the helicopter crew to perform three precision rescue swimmer deployments including lowering one to a buoy where a time penalty of four minutes would be added if the swimmer failed to touch the buoy before entering the water.

Other requirements in the exercise were to launch the helicopter within 30 minutes of receiving the “go” order, fly one racetrack circuit and come to a hover at the first buoy, free-fall deploy one rescue swimmer within 10 feet of the buoy, free-fall deploy one rescue swimmer within 10 feet of the second buoy and come to a 50 foot hover over the third buoy.

The U.S. Coast Guard team finished the event with a time of 3 minutes, 13 seconds, the second place team finished with a time of 8:13 and third place team finished in just over 12 minutes.

“We only brought two rescue swimmers with our crew, so we borrowed a Canadian SARTech,” said Lt. Brooks Crawford, co-pilot for the exercise. “In preparation for the exercise we learned the similarities and differences between our operating procedures. The help of the Canadian SARTech was instrumental in our crew being able to participate and win the event.”

The aircrew also competed in a medical triage event and a separate land rescue event. The crew was also scheduled to participate in a precision hoisting exercise but all of Friday’s events were cancelled due to weather.

The search and rescue exercise took place in Whitehorse but was hosted by the 442 Squadron based out of Comox, British Columbia.

In addition to the 442 Squadron’s AW-101 Cormorant helicopter and a DHC-5 Buffalo aircraft, other platforms included a CH-146 Griffon helicopter from 424 Squadron in Trenton, Ontario, a U.S. Air Force HC-130 Hercules from Squadron 304 in Portland, Ore. and the Sitka-based MH-60 Jayhawk.

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