ROYAL AIR FORCE MILDENHALL, England — An international rescue effort is currently en route to a ship in the Atlantic approximately 700 miles off the west coast of Ireland. A crew member on board container ship "Pascha" has fallen seriously ill and needs urgent medical attention.
The ship's distance from land makes it impossible for the traditional sea rescue operations to reach; and the U.K.'s Rescue Coordination Center requested the assistance of the U.S. military forces who are based in England.
An RAF Nimrod maritime surveillance aircraft launching from RAF Kinloss in Scotland will provide coordination for the airborne effort that will include a total of four different aircraft platforms.
Two HH-60G helicopters with Pararescuemen from the U.S. Air Forces in Europe's 56th Rescue Squadron based out of RAF Lakenheath will perform the actual rescue. In order to get to the rescue site, the helicopters will need to refuel en route. The aircraft refueling the helicopters are MC-130PPs from Air Force Special Operations Command's 352nd Special Operations Group based at RAF Mildenhall. This is an aircraft specially fitted to refuel helicopters, but its range requires that it refuel mid-flight as well, for this kind of long distance flight.
The 100th Air Refueling Squadron out of RAF Mildenhall is launching a KC-135 to refuel the MC-130P, providing the range that is vital to this mission.
A very similar effort was dispatched employing these same units on December 10th of last year. That mission was successful in retrieving the patient and getting him to medical care in time.
"We're working fast with our U.K. partners to try to get to this sailor in time to help. We have some of the best-trained crews in the air right now who are intent on getting this patient stabilized and to safety," said Air Force Col. Jay Silveria, commander of the 48th Fighter Wing. The 56th Rescue Squadron is a part of the 48th Fighter Wing.
The helicopters will take their patient to a location in Shannon, Ireland, where medical providers will be waiting to take him to a nearby hospital.