PACIFIC OCEAN - The crew of the guided missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) responded to a distress call from a 40-foot pleasure craft located two miles west of Point Loma, May 26.
Benfold was two miles south of the vessel when the distress call was received, but the ship immediately came to full power and responded a few short minutes later.
Benfold mustered the ship’s rescue and assistance team comprised of an experienced damage control party and medical personnel, while a small crew on board the rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) powered towards the distressed vessel to provide immediate response.
Once alongside, the ship’s crew encountered the small boat Current Sea Exchange, homeported in Oceanside, California, with a young family on board.
The two adults and four children were found to be safe and healthy, but the engine room bilge was flooding with fuel. Acting quickly to ensure the safety of the crew, Benfold’s Engineman 2nd Class (SW) Jacob Salazar identified the source of the leak and covered the spilled fuel with aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) to prevent sparking a fire.
While Salazar surveyed the vessel’s engines, the rest of the RHIB crew, consisting of Fire Controlman 1sts Class (SW) Kyle Allen, Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class (SW) Serhiy Dubenko, Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Tyler Gaston and Lt. j.g. Thomas Baker, comforted the family and communicated the situation back to Benfold.
After coordinating with the U.S. Coast Guard, a small tug prepared to tow the vessel back to port for further repairs as Benfold returned to sea to continue her operations.
“The Benfold Sailors who responded to the scene displayed outstanding professionalism in the execution of their duties, truly embodying Benfold’s motto of ‘Onward with Valor’,” said Cmdr. Michele Day, Benfold’s commanding officer.
Benfold is currently in the training cycle and transitioning later this summer to become part of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) in Yokosuka, Japan, where it will operate as the premiere forward deployed ballistic missile defense ship.