USS BOXER, At Sea – Search and rescue (SAR) swimmers aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), trained in the choppy waters of the Arabian Sea, Oct. 19, during a rescue drill.
Boxer’s two SAR swimmers put their life-saving skills to the test during the exercise where they practiced saving “Oscar”, a simulated casualty who they each rescued.
“The SAR swimmers are extremely vital to the ships mission,” said Lt. David E. Nelson, SAR officer and assistant deck department 1st lieutenant. “It’s impressive to see our SAR swimmers able to maintain their mental diligence and physical endurance during these operations. It is very easy to break under pressure.”
Boat crew members dropped Oscar into the water so the SAR swimmers could practice locating and rescuing him.
“The waves were a little challenging when I was swimming with Oscar. But, it was a great day to get out in the water and swim in the actual ocean instead of inside of a pool,” said Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Christian M. Pugliese, a member of weapons department whose collateral duty is serving as a SAR swimmer.
SAR swimmers must meet physical requirements and try out for the position, which includes an assessment of push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, a mile and a half run and a 400-meter swim to earn the collateral duty.
“I was excited when I found out I made the SAR team. I like the idea of being able to save people,” said Seaman James M. Kinder, a member of deck department’s 3rd division whose collateral duty is also serving as a SAR swimmer. “I’ve always loved swimming and being in the water so I really enjoy the opportunity.”
Kinder said he performs daily SAR checks and an inventory of all survival equipment on the 7-meter rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) when the ship is underway. RHIBs are used as a mode of transportation for the Boxer SAR swimmers when they are performing their job.
“I really feel that if we needed to deploy out in the water, I’d be more than ready,” said Kinder.
Nelson said the collateral duty keeps the Boxer Sailors on their toes and their eyes and ears open for the chance that the whistle blows for a man overboard.
“Being a SAR swimmer breaks them out of their same daily duties at work,” said Nelson. “It shows that they are willing and motivated in volunteering to do the right thing in a time of emergency.”
Nelson added that the rescue drill helps the SAR swimmers maintain their skills and prepares them for any challenge they might face.
“It makes me feel more valuable to know that I’m one of the few who can do what I do to save someone,” said Pugliese.
Boxer is currently deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts as part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group.