U.S. European Command coordinates difficult rescue at sea

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ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England — HH-60 helicopters with the 56th Rescue Squadron take off here Dec. 10, 2008 for a real-world rescue mission. A crew member of a cargo ship suffered a serious head injury requiring medevac, and U.S. forces were called upon to help. (Department of Defense photo)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England — HH-60 helicopters with the 56th Rescue Squadron take off here Dec. 10, 2008 for a real-world rescue mission. A crew member of a cargo ship suffered a serious head injury requiring medevac, and U.S. forces were called upon to help. (Department of Defense photo)

STUTTGART, Germany — U.S. European Command Headquarters and U.S. Air Forces-Europe joined forces to conduct a long distance rescue mission off the coast of Ireland, Dec. 10, 2008.

The Rescue Coordination Center in the United Kingdom contacted the U.S. military requesting assistance to evacuate a severely injured crewman onboard the M/V Anna Rickmers, a cargo ship operating 460 miles offshore.

The U.S. military dispatched two HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters from Lakenheath, U.K., along with an MC-130 Hercules airplane and KC-135 refueling aircraft, both from Mildenhall, U.K., to conduct the rescue.

USEUCOM's Joint Operations Center Team Chief, Navy Capt. Gregory F. Stephens, said, "The success of this operation is attributed to the capability of the European Command staff, Air Forces Europe and our component commands."

The injured man was taken to the Shannon International Airport and then transported to the hospital where he is reported to be in stable condition.

"There is no doubt about the resolve of any person involved in this time-critical operation, and all can take pride in the outcome of this complex display of communications, planning, and airmanship."

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