Two MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews and a HC-130 Hercules aircraft crew from Kodiak arrived on scene. One of the Jayhawk crews hoisted the men and transported them to Nome, Alaska.
Coast Guard District 17 watchstanders received a report from Erickson Helicopters that the two men were stranded while attempting to cross-country ski/kayak across the sea ice from Wales to Little Diomede. The ice was reportedly too thin to walk on, but too thick to continue in kayaks. Erickson Helicopters was unable to retrieve the men due to weather. The men put on survival suits, entered the kayaks and activated their personal-locator beacon. The watchstanders requested the launch of the Hercules and Jayhawks.
The two men, from the U.K., were attempting to make the transit as part of an expeditionary challenge.
“Air Station Kodiak crews experience some of the most demanding aviation challenges in the United States Coast Guard and today’s search and rescue is a perfect example of how well trained these seasoned aircrews are when responding to emergencies, even at distances of over 700 miles,” said Capt. Mark Morin, Air Station Kodiak commanding officer. “This case involved the coordination and full court press utilizing one of our C-130 airplanes and two helicopters, all of which consisted for a total of 24 crewmembers. Fortunately, the two survivors were well prepared with a SAT-phone and personal locator beacon, which makes locating them easier for my crews. These Coast Guardsmen are the finest aircrews and this case typifies their readiness and commitment to the people who live and work in Alaska.”
The weather on scene was reported as 23 mph winds and two mile visibility.