Coast Guard Medevacs Two from Cruise Ship

MIAMI — The Coast Guard medically evacuated an 88-year-old man and an 80-year-old woman from the Holland America cruise ship Westerdam about 80 miles south of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, at about 10 p.m. Friday.

Search-and-rescue coordinators at the Coast Guard District Seven command center in Miami received a telephone call from a Westerdam crewmember around 3:45 p.m. Friday stating two passengers were in need of medical care. A Coast Guard flight surgeon reviewed the cases and determined an immediate medical evacuation of both patients was necessary.

Coast Guard Air Station Miami immediately launched an HU-25 Falcon jet crew and an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew in response to the call. The Dolphin crew hoisted the man and the woman from the Westerdam around 9:45 p.m. and landed at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, where the man was transferred to the base hospital and the woman was transferred to the Falcon jet.

The Falcon crew took off from Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, around midnight and landed at Air Station Miami at 2 a.m., where emergency medical services personnel were waiting to transfer the woman to Jackson Memorial Hospital.

“We’re the busiest search-and-rescue unit in the Coast Guard,” said Lt. j.g. Chris Barnes, a Falcon pilot at Air Station Miami. “We stand a 24-hour watch for this purpose and we’re glad to have the chance to use our resources to save lives.”

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  1. Sandra Keating says:

    I was the nurse who was also airlifted from the cruise ship that night. I met the three daring coast guard rescuers and have a photo of the four of us taken just before I left on the Falcon for Florida. I remember Shay and Justin but can’t recall the co-pilot’s name. They were all fantastic, as was the entire staff of the ER at the Naval hospital (esp Capt Ireland) and the coreman (Angelica) and Falcon ?navigator? (Jamal) Would love to have the co-pilot’s name -first name only is fine with me, just hate to leave a blank on the picture.
    If you can, please pass on to them how much respect I have for what they do, how much I admire their bravery and how it was a pleasure to save lives right along with them.
    Sandra Keating, RN
    London, Ontario, Canada

  2. John says:

    I don’t have access to the information but you could try emailing the Air Station Miami Public Affairs Officer at They should be able to get you the copilots name and pass on any message.