Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Howard (DDG 83) rescued a sea turtle entangled on a half-sunken fishing vessel Oct. 16.
A naval air crewman spotted the small skiff and the entangled sea turtle while conducting operations on an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter from the “Wolf Pack” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 75. Upon notification, Howard deployed search and rescue swimmers on a rigid-hull inflatable boat to investigate.
“Constant vigilance of our surroundings and the ability to adapt and react to any situation is a goal to which we constantly train,” said Cmdr. Ryan Billington, commanding officer of Howard. “We were able to simultaneously carry out multiple missions. We launched one of our RHIBs to cut free and rescue a sea turtle and used our crew served weapons to sink the vessel completely to make it safe for not only wildlife but the safe navigation of other ships as well.”
The crew acted quickly due to the fading light at sunset. It was a unique opportunity for the crew to serve as protectors of the environment for sea life.
“This was a very unusual rescue,” said Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Scott Stearns, from McKinney, Texas, one of the ship’s search and rescue (SAR) swimmers. “We train for rescuing people in SAR school so a turtle is a very different situation, but it was good practice getting into the water for a real-world situation and we were able to cut the turtle free.”
Howard is deployed with Nimitz Carrier Strike Group in the 5th Fleet area of operations conducting maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners, preserving freedom of navigation and maintaining the free flow of commerce.
For more information about Howard, visit www.public.navy.mil/surfor/ddg83
For more information about Carrier Strike Group, visit http://www.nimitz.navy.mil/csg_11.html or www.facebook.com/carrierstrikegroupeleven